OYO: It's Arbor Day: Plant a tree

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In this week's Owning Your Outdoors we are celebrating Arbor Day. Our lawn and garden expert, Doug Schroeder from Lewis, tells us everything we need to know about planting trees.

Doug Schroeder and Shawn Cable are planting a tree for Arbor Day 2017

Selecting your tree:

When you decide to plant a tree, the first thing you should do is look around your yard and see what other trees you have. Plant a variety of trees in your yard. When considering a tree, study up and get to know its characteristics. It's important to pay attention to a tree's canopy. Some trees have a mammoth 50 foot canopy and putting a tree like that on a small lot makes no sense.

Preparing for your tree:

The first and most important thing you must do when you decide to plant a tree is call 811 and have your yard marked for utilities. In South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa you must call two working days in advance. This is a safety concern and absolutely necessary.

Most places, including Sioux Falls, do not have laws regarding whether or not you can plant a tree. There are, however, regulations regarding what type of tree you can plant on boulevards. You can find a list of acceptable trees on the city website.You can find that link in the column to the right.

Planting the tree:

The hole for your tree should be twice to three times the size of the ball. The ball is the roots and the dirt. Everything that is in the pot above the trunk of the tree.

For the tree that we're planning today, we are going to take a shovel and cut the sod about 8 to 10 inches around the pot. Then we will remove the sod and dig the hole.

It's not necessary, but having a tarp to shovel the dirt onto does make for easy cleanup.

After you finish digging the hole, place the tree - still in the pot - to test the depth. You want the ball to be even with or slightly above the turf. It is very important not to plant the tree too deep, if you do there's a good chance it will not survive.

When the hole is the proper depth, remove the tree and root ball from the pot. Loosen the dirt around the roots and take a knife and cut around the sides of the ball. Roots have a tendency to grow in a circle, especially after being kept in a pot. This will help loosen things up and prevent the roots from growing in a circle and choking itself off.

Next, place the tree in the hole. It is important that the trunk of the tree is perfectly straight. It helps to have another person with you to make sure that the tree is straight from all angles.

When the tree is straight, pour some water into the hole around the root ball. For the tree we're planting today, we used about one-half of a 5 gallons bucket. Once you've added water, you can start filling dirt back in the hole. Fill the hole to the top of the root ball, but don't pack it tight around the edges.

After you've added the dirt, water the tree one last time. If the dirt around the edge settles, you should add more.

The final step is to add mulch, about three inches deep, around the tree. Pull the mulch a couple of inches away from the trunk of the tree.

Now your tree is ready to thrive. Be sure to give it plenty of water. Doug says that in cooler times, watering once or twice a week should be plenty. In the middle of the hot summer, you may need to water your new tree every other day.