News release: Plant and care for trees, grow resilient communities this Arbor Month

May 6, 2024

This May, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources invites community members to celebrate Arbor Month by embracing the theme, “Plant and Care for Trees, Grow Resilient Communities.” May is the perfect month to focus attention on tree care.

“Choosing and planting the right tree for your yard is the first step,” DNR Forestry Outreach Specialist Nikki Henger said. “The second is to properly care for your trees to help them grow strong so they can provide shade to relax under, energy savings, and environmental benefits for years to come.”

Below are tips on how to plant and care for trees:

Getting started – start by selecting the right tree for the yard, with an eye towards adding to the diversity of the neighborhood tree canopy. Before planting, visit Gopher State One Call or dial 811 to check for utility lines to figure out the best spot for planting.

Planting – take the tree out of the container and break up or remove any circling or girdling roots. Dig the hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the root ball height. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground. Fill the hole with soil and remove air pockets by stepping around the tree. Finish by watering and mulching. 

Caring for newly-planted trees – newly planted trees need some extra care to establish their roots and thrive in their new environment. The DNR recommends:

  • Watering – newly-planted trees generally require 15-25 gallons of water per week for the first three to five years. Watering should happen whenever your area receives less than 1 inch of rain a week.
  • Mulching – proper mulching is crucial for protecting roots and soil health. A layer of mulch around the tree's base should be 3 inches deep, extend 3 feet from the trunk, and start 3 inches away from the trunk to prevent moisture buildup against the bark that can cause rot and girdling roots.

Caring for mature trees – even mature trees need attention. Water mature trees once a week during drought conditions, ideally in the early morning or late evenings. Use a soaker hose to drip water slowly around your trees to ensure the water soaks into the top 6 inches of soil, which might take a few hours.

“This Arbor Month, help our neighborhood trees thrive by caring for the trees you planted!” Henger said.

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