The simple act of planting a tree is hardly so simple

Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.
Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.

Most of us recognize that anyone who has stuck a tree into their front yard and managed not to kill it is hardly a tree planting expert. Unfortunately, even the pros will disagree on the best way to plant. At some point, you’ve all played witness to matter-of-fact tree planting dogma from a self-proclaimed tree planting expert, often with some pretty obscure ideas and methodologies.

There are no absolute right answers that apply to each unique tree planting situation, but if we can agree that ‘the right way’ to plant a tree should be based on modern best practices and the best available science, then we’re in luck.

Before you plant a tree this spring, be sure to check out the following resources: 

  1.  The Practical Science of Planting Trees, by Gary Watson and E.B. Himelick: Whoa! Published in 2013, this is a brand new, 250-page manual with full color photos and dozens of illustrations, covers everything there is to know about planting trees. This resource is an absolute must for the tree planting nerd you know. 
  2.  ANSI A300 Transplanting Standard, Part 6: This is the industry standard for planting and transplanting trees and shrubs. Especially if you work for a municipality, you’ll need this to help with writing and enforcing your tree planting contract specifications. 
  3.  ISA Best Management Practices, Tree Planting: Last revised in 2005, this companion publication to the ANSI standard is a modest investment for anyone who calls themselves a tree planter. Keep a copy in the truck for reference in the field. 
  4. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program has a publication written by Jim Flott, an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting urban forester from Spokane, which specifically details the perils of planting trees too deeply. Check it out on our webpage: Proper Planting Begins Below Ground. 
  5.  Washington State University’s own Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has spent her career debunking numerous horticultural myths, including those relating to tightly held, but outdated beliefs about planting trees.
  6. Not so much the reading type? No worries. Casey Trees, a highly reputable non-profit tree planting organization in Washington D.C. has done a nice job of translating best practices for tree planting into some short, easy-to-follow instructional videos: Planting a Balled-and-Burlapped Tree; or, Planting a Container-grown Tree

Now go forth and plant trees (in accordance with best practices, of course).

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