Plant a Tree

Plant a Tree

A fun activity that's also great for the planet is tree planting.  If you have space in your yard for a tree or you know someone who does, why not give a young tree the chance to grow there?  Trees clean our air, they provide living space and food for birds and other wild animals, and they give us shade in the summer.  There are so many great reasons to plant a tree!

To get started, you'll need a shovel (or two), a helper, a hose or other watering system, and a sapling.  A sapling is a young tree with a trunk that's only about as thick as a grown-up's finger.  

When you pick your sapling, be sure to ask what kind of tree it will grow up to be.  Some trees get very tall--as tall as 80 feet or more!  Other trees spread into a wide canopy and need a lot of space to grow.  Big trees like these might seem perfect when they're saplings, but when they grow up they might not fit in your space.  If that's true, don't worry.  Trees come in hundreds of varieties, including dwarf types that never grow taller than five or six feet.  

The first thing you need to do is to dig a hole.  If you bought your tree from a nursery or plant store, ask them if there are any specific directions for planting your tree.  As a general rule, you'll want to plant your tree as deep in the ground as it was set in soil at the nursery or in the pot it comes in.  So, if the soil in the pot is about a foot and a half deep, your hole will need to be at the least that deep.  Use a ruler to measure the depth.

Once your hole is deep enough, you'll need to keep digging to make it wide enough.  Your hole should be three times the width of the container your tree came in.  So if your tree came in a pot that's six inches wide, your hole will need to be eighteen inches wide.

When your hole is finished, have someone help you remove it from the container and set it in the hole.  Take your time placing the tree, making sure the trunk is straight.  You might have to look at your tree from several different angles to be sure!  Then have one person hold the tree steady while the other shovels the loose dirt back into the hole.

Use your hands to gently compress the soil around the tree.  Don't push the soil too hard; just pack it down nicely, then give your tree a nice, long drink of water.  Your tree is now safely planted, but because it's a young tree, you'll still need to check on it from time to time.  Depending on the temperature, you'll need to give your tree a long watering with a hose every few weeks.  

If you go through a very hot and dry spell, check the moisture level of your tree by pushing your finger into the soil near its trunk.  If the soil is damp, your tree is fine.  However, if it's very dry, it's time to give your tree another drink.  After a year, your tree will be old enough to live on its own without being watered, except during very hot and dry periods in the summer.
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