Friday is Arbor Day, a national tree-planting celebration celebrated every April since 1872. This year, why not celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree in your own backyard or somewhere else in your community?
Trees are an important economic, environmental and quality of life asset in an urban community, reducing the heat island effect, reducing air pollution, intercepting stormwater and improving the quality of life for residents. Trees also provide essential habitat and a food source for birds, pollinators and other insects and wildlife.
The City of Columbus has identified a critical need to increase tree canopy, as only 22% of all land in the city is shaded by trees.
In addition to the community benefits provided by tree canopy, the presence of tall trees in a home’s front yard can increase the property value of the home, and strategically placed trees can shade homes and other structures, reducing annual air conditioning costs up to 56%. %, according to the US Forest Service.
Trees improve air quality by removing carbon dioxide and other air pollutants, with one large tree providing a day’s worth of oxygen for four people. And how could we ever place a value on the pleasure of hearing the chirping of songbirds perched in the trees of our yards, parks and trails?
The right plant in the right place
The key to success in planting trees (or any plant for that matter), is locating the right tree in the right place by matching specific trees with the conditions of where they will be planted. If you want to plant a tree in the border strip in front of your house, resist the temptation to plant a flowering tree like dogwood or redbud, as the full sun location and other harsh conditions associated with border strips do not are not ideal for those “forest edge species”, which grow best in filtered sunlight.
If you want to plant a tree in a slow-draining spot in the yard, consider planting a species that tolerates long periods of wet soil such as willow, birch, red maple, or silver maple.
Be sure to choose the right size tree for where you will be planting it. For locations close to the house, choose small to medium-sized trees like Saskatoon, Japanese Maple, Red Buckeye, and Green Hawthorn. Large shade trees such as maples, Kentucky coffee, oaks, sweetgum and honey locust should all be planted in wide open spaces at least 35 feet from the house, other structures or power lines aerial.
Good planting is essential
When digging a tree planting hole, dig the hole 2-3 times wider than the diameter of the root ball. The depth of the planting hole should be 2 or 3 inches less than the height of the root ball, as most clay soils in Ohio are somewhat poorly drained, requiring the top of the root ball to be 2 or 3 inches above the ground. the planting area.
When planting trees with their roots wrapped in burlap, be sure to remove any string, nails, wire, and even the burlap once the root ball is placed in the planting hole, as these materials can restrict root growth and even girdle or strangle the plant.
Tangled roots at the bottom or surrounding the roots of trees grown in plastic containers should be cut and removed or straightened, if possible, to prevent girdling. Be sure to remove any plant tags attached to the tree with wire or nylon string, which could eventually gird the stem tissue.
When backfilling the planting hole, mix an organic soil amendment such as compost or peat moss with the soil removed from the hole at the rate of two-thirds soil and one-third organic amendment. A high phosphorus fertilizer such as 5-10-5 can be added to the backfill when planting at the rate of ½ pint of fertilizer per bushel of backfill soil. Tamp the fill soil firmly, but do not compact it firmly by standing on the fill.
Monitor soil moisture
Although spring is a great time of year to plant trees, the heat and dryness of summer can be quite stressful for newly planted trees. Be sure to provide additional water to newly planted trees, especially during periods of hot, dry weather.
One method of providing slow, steady watering to a newly planted tree is to poke two or three small holes in a five-gallon plastic bucket with an awl or dime nail, then place the bucket over the root zone of the tree. the newly planted tree. tree. Every few days, fill the bucket with water and it will slowly drain into the ground.
Happy Arbor Day!
Mike Hogan is an associate professor at The Ohio State University and an educator at OSU Extension.