What you should know about successful tree planting

Three essential tips for planting the right tree in the right place this season. And remember to call 811 before you dig

“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
– Greek proverb

Earth Day 2017 is April 22 and National Arbor Day is April 28, a great time to think about planting trees this season. (In Southern climates the best time to plant trees is in fall.) Trees, after all, do more than simply provide shade and beauty. Trees in cities lower temperatures and help reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

A little planning will help ensure success. Pick the right tree, plant it in the right place and give it a good start. First, what kind of tree do you want to plant? A large tree to provide shade, an ornamental or a fruit tree? Answering those questions will help determine what type of tree to look for.


The right tree. Pick a species that’s native to your area. It will be naturally resistant to local insects and blight and tolerant to your climate. That gives it a better chance of survival.

The right place. Trees must live in tough environments when growing in cities. Know the height and width of the tree when it reaches maturity, so it will have enough room to thrive. Buildings can produce a lot of radiant heat so plant the tree far enough away for it to mature. Keep large maturing trees such as oaks and maples at least 40 feet away from power lines.

And remember to call 811 before you dig. Crews will mark underground utilities within two to three weekdays of your call. The service is free.

A good start. Give the tree a good start and it’ll do well. Make sure the planting hole is about three times the size of the root ball. Plant it with the root flare just above ground level.

“Give that tree a great beginning. Water it well the first and second year and put it off to a good start,” said Duke Energy forester Tom Johnson. “That’s the best thing to ensure long-term success in the urban environment.”

Tom Johnson discusses the importance of tree selection.

Resources for success

Duke Energy’s Plan before you plant

Right tree, right place

Arbor Day Foundation.

Call 811 before you dig.