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Thinking about planting a tree?

Good Gardening


April 9 is Arbor Day in Washington state and April 25 is National Arbor Day. So let’s talk about trees.

Neighborhood and street trees provide shade for streets and parking areas, add to the value of your property, cool the air, absorb carbon dioxide and add to the diversity of habitat for birds and beneficial insects. Neighborhoods with well-shaded streets can be 6-10 degrees cooler than neighborhoods without trees, and shaded parking lots keep automobiles cooler, reducing emissions from fuel tanks and engines, both of which help reduce the heat-island effect of communities.

Trees benefit the environment through the natural process of photosynthesis by which trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen.

The selection and planting of a tree is a longterm commitment, so it is important to ask a few questions to insure you select the right tree for the area you want to plant.

First, how much room will the tree take when mature? Trees vary greatly in height and canopy spread (width). A columnar tree will grow in less space; however, round and V-shaped species provide the most shade.

Do you want a tree that loses its leaves in the fall? If so, choose a deciduous tree. A conifer will retain its needles all winter. Fruit trees are nice but be prepared to spend more time on pruning and insect control.

Tree growth rate is also a consideration, but remember that slow growing species typically live longer than fast growing species.

Soil profile and fertility are important in growing your trees. Soils can be amended at planting time if necessary to accommodate most species of trees, especially here in the Grand Coulee Dam area where we often have a rocky soil profile.

After you have selected the right tree for the site, take care to carefully plant your tree. Dig a hole as deep and twice the size of the root ball. Loosen the soil some below the planting depth. Place the tree in the the hole at the same planting depth as it was in the pot or as a root ball.

Make sure the soil is well pressed down around the tree roots, and water the tree deeply. You may decide to stake the tree, but remember to remove the stakes by one year. Do not prune or fertilize the tree at planting time. Finally, place a tree guard around your tree to protect it from damage, such as deer rubbing it.

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