How to Plant a Tree, and Why

*Article and Photos by Adrien  DeLapp

October 2018, FLOW planted more than 100 trees between a variety of schools, including Gables, Maize, and Salem Elementary as well as Hamilton Stem Academy. Against all odds (cold, rain, and mud) these tree plantings were a success thanks to the efforts of Nisource, the Columbus Young Professionals, and other volunteers.

 The transition from summer to fall is beautiful to witness. During this time of year, the temperature is comfortable and the leaves take on a spectrum of warm hues. However, late August to the end of October is also the optimal time to plant trees. One reason why is that the air is cooler than the soil this time of year. This encourages root growth without top growth, thus young trees are able to develop a sturdy root system before growing upward. Additionally, the moderate temperature and fall rain help the tree to hold in moisture, reduce the risk of it undergoing heat stress, and give it the required support to grow during the spring season. While some trees are easiest to grow in the spring, for many deciduous trees fall is the best time to plant.

    Once a person knows what season to start planting, they’re going to need some tools to prepare. Assuming they’ve got a hole and a tree already, they’ll need a shovel, wire cutters, stakes, a stake pounder, and tree tie. Also, they should make sure that they’ve got 2 or 3 other people helping out, as even the smallest trees can have heavy root balls. The first step FLOW volunteers take when planting trees is removing any plastic ties or sacks on the trunk. Next, volunteers carefully roll the tree into the hole. After that, it’s time to cut the burlap sack covering the root ball. Volunteers use a wire cutter to remove the wire from outside of the sack, then remove the nails holding the sack together. After this, it is safe to bury the burlap sack along with the tree. Once the soil is distributed so as to fill in the hole, it’s time to mulch the tree. It is important to make sure to pull back the soil and mulch from the base of the tree trunk so that the root ball is exposed, as this helps the roots to absorb water and exchange necessary gases with the environment. Now it’s time to stake. Staking is done by pulling a stake pounder over the head and then ramming it over a stake. This is best done using your body weight to propel the pounder unto the stake. It is helpful to use the two stakes to straighten out the tree, if necessary. Finally, the tree should be tied to the stakes. Knots should be tight and wrapped around the grooves in the stakes so as to reduce the risk of the tie slipping. It is recommended that the planter leave extra tie so that there is enough to retie the tree if the knots come undone. Lastly, safely dispose of all waste, including any plastic, extra burlap, wire, or nails. After this process, the first steps have been taken towards planting a tree that will benefit the environment, the neighborhood, and the lives of individuals for years to come.

Five Reasons to Plant a Tree:

  1. Trees Absorb and Release into the Environment

This not only helps people to breathe, but in the long run, helps to combat climate change.

  1. Trees Improve Air and Water Quality

Trees absorb pollutants in the air and reduce runoff. Trees also reduce evaporation on shady lawns and release moisture into the air.

  1. Trees Reduce the Temperature

This helps keep the city cool on hot summer days and decreases the amount of energy used on air conditioning.

  1. Trees Increase Property Values

Trees can increase the property value of a neighborhood and attract business traffic.

  1. Trees Improve Health

It has been proven that trees help sick or injured people to heal. Trees are also good for mental health and well-being and help to reduce violence.

Happy Planting,

FLOW