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How To Plant a Sapling Tree

23 June

Why plant a sapling?

By now it is apparent to everyone that planting trees are good for the environment. Trees produce oxygen that is needed to sustain life. They also absorb harmful pollutants that would otherwise be adding the problems we have on this earth today. There are so many reasons to plant a sapling tree, and doing it right is just another way to help your environment and have a long-lasting experience with your new plant.

Finding the right area… Image of a tree an appropriate distance from a household

The first step to planting a tree in its sapling form is determining the area you are going to be planting it in. You have to find a place that does not interfere with the roots of the tree. To be safe, find an area 15 to 20 feet away from your house, sidewalk, driveway, and other trees. This should also go without saying, but make sure your sapling is not under any power lines. It is also best make sure there are no pipes or wires in the area you are digging in. Even if you don’t dig into the wire or pipe, the roots could eventually reach them, so it’s best to be 100% on where you are digging.

Begin your digging…

Image of dirt dug out and put into a wheelbarrow

The next step is to make the hole. Measure the diameter of the root ball of your sapling. The hole you are digging should be 2 or 3 times as wide as the root ball. For example, if the root ball is 2 foot in length, the hole should have a diameter of 4 to 6 feet. The hole should also be as deep as the height of the root ball. Now that you have your dimensions, it is time to dig. Start by removing the grass on your measured area, and discarding it or planting it elsewhere. Then dig according to your measurements of height. Once you are finished, double check the depth of the hole to ensure you are correct. At this point you may want to treat the soil you dug out. It is recommended to spread superphosphate and fertilizer onto the soil and mix in. Consult the seller when buying your sapling tree to make sure you use the right fertilizer.

Planting your sapling tree in its new home…

Now it is time to plant the sapling tree into the ground. Place the sapling inside your newly-dug hole. Try to remove any excess soil so that you can find the first root from the top. A tree is planted so that the first roots are at or below the surface of soil, and your sapling is no different. Make sure your sapling is in the hole and the first root fits this description. At this point, remove any wrappings or fastenings around the sapling. If there is tan or brown burlap around the root ball, you may leave it, as it will decay within a month (though it can be removed). However, if there is green burlap, remove as much as possible as this burlap is designed to resist decay, and can therefore restrict your sapling’s roots. Once the sapling tree is planted in the ground, refill your hole with the soil and firm it with your foot or shovel to remove any pockets that may have formed.

You’re not done once you’ve got the sapling tree planted!

Image of man watering newly planted tree sapling.

The sapling tree has now been planted, but the work does not stop there. It is now time to water and mulch the area. Create a crater by making a 6 inch curb with your shovel and then fill the crater with water. Once the water has been completely absorbed by the soil, knock down your curb and smooth it out. Now spread about 3 inches of mulch over the exposed dirt, making sure to keep the mulch away from the trunk of the sapling. This step is necessary because if the mulch is too close to the trunk it could cultivate mold and promote rotting in the sapling.

Your saplings future…

You are now done planting the sapling, but you still need to care for it while it is being established. Make sure to water the tree every day for around 6 weeks or hang drip irrigation bags from the trunk. Check the bags regularly to make sure they have water. For more tips on caring for your tree, check the common problems that cause a tree to die in How to Save a Dying Tree.