Before you buy a tree:
- Make sure it is suitable for Zone 4. The Miles City area includes some Zone 3 growing conditions, but selecting only trees suitable for planting in Zone 4 is highly advisable. (View zone map)
- Pick the location where you will be planting the tree and then make sure that the tree will not become destructive to that location. Some tree roots can damage underground pipes, sidewalks and foundations.
Before you plant a tree:
- Make sure that you have everything you need readily available. Things to consider having on-hand include shovels, rake, hoe, peat moss, fertilizer, tiller, water, wheelbarrow and a tamper.
- Check to make sure that the location where you will be planting the tree is free of underground wiring and water lines including automatic watering systems, cable TV lines and telephone lines.
- The best time to plant a tree is in the fall or early spring. Late in the spring, or during the summer months, the heat and dryness will stress the new tree and could well cause it not to survive its first year.
Time to Plant the Tree
Step 1) Dig a hole that is at least 2 times the size of the root ball. A hole that is 3-4 times the size of the root ball is better, as it will make it easier for the new roots to spread out and find moisture and nutrition. Create a small platform in the middle of the hole, on which the root ball will sit. See Illustration A.
Step 2) Remove the roots of the new tree from their container. Whether you are gently removing the tree from a pot or removing a bag or netting, be gentle. Now that the roots are more exposed, you should work quickly. This will protect the roots from drying out and shock.
Step 3) Carefully place the tree into the hole and onto the platform you prepared. Make sure the hole is the right size and that the platform will hold the tree so that the roots will all be buried, but the *crown is not buried. See Illustration B.
*Where the roots change to the trunk of the tree.
Step 4) Fill in the hole and cover the root ball using some or all of the following components: compost, peat moss, manure, prepared soils and native soils. Do NOT use commercial fertilizers that are not specifically designed for new trees as they can damage the new roots. Be sure to give nut and fruit trees some extra manure to ensure good growth.
Step 5) Water the tree with a gentle shower of water. This will help settle the new fill and avoid cutting holes or washing away your precious new fill. After the fill settles and collapses any pockets of trapped air, water your new tree again. Give new trees about 2-gallons of water for every foot of altitude.
Step 6) Add about 3″ of mulch to the newly planted area. Keep the mulch off the tree’s trunk. The mulch circle should extend to about the ends of where the branches reach to. See Illustration C.
Step 7) Protect the tree trunk from vermin intent on eating it. See Suzanne or Gary in the greenhouse for suggestions on how to prevent animal damage to your new tree.
Taking Care of the Tree
- The first few years of a newly transplanted tree are the most important. Young trees require some extra attention. Here are some care tips:
- Water the tree about once a week during the growing season. Give new trees about 2-gallons of water for every foot of altitude.
- Keep the mulch in order.
- If you notice the tree starting to lean, stake it so that it grows straight and true.
- Watch the tree closely for signs of infection or infestation. If you see a problem starting, See Suzanne or Gary in the greenhouse for suggestions on how to eliminate the disease or insect(s) before it seriously damages or kills your tree.
- A great way to help a tree get its nutrition naturally, is to till in a bag or two of manure every spring. If you have no tiller, you can also remove the mulch, loosen the topsoil, mix the manure with it using a rake and/or hoe and replace the mulch. Watering will slowly take the nutrients down to the roots.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Alfred Joyce Kilmer – February 2, 1913