Strong roots start with proper planting- experts share their tree tips


RAPID CITY, S.D.- As spring approaches summer, new trees are taking root. The way in which trees are planted is crucial to the survival of the tree, so Rapid City held classes to help citizens learn to properly help their plants take root.

“Over the the last 15 -20 years of doing this kind of work in town, I have seen more trees planted wrong than you can imagine. It’s a pandemic of its own,” says Jason Preble, Rapid City Forestry and Landscape Supervisor. 

So how do you plant a tree wrong?

“Mostly it’s too deep,” Preble adds. “Most people are putting trees in way deeper than they need to be.”

What then is the proper depth for planting a tree? 

Tree Planting“When you’re putting it in the ground, the root crown of the tree, the part where the tree flares out and meets the ground like you would see in the forest, that’s how deep they go. That first main root, that’s right at the soil surface,” explains Preble. 

Trees breathe through their roots, so burying them too much is no good for that healthy, necessary gas exchange. “It’s just the natural way they’ve grown up, that’s what they want. If you plant them deeper than that, then they they literally choke, they can’t breathe. And then the roots start to girdle, and it’s a series of events that lead to an eventual death,” Preble says. 

It’s also important to stake your trees for about a year, so that wind and deer don’t get the best of them. You’ll want to leave enough space and slack for the tree to move though, because this motion sends signals to strengthen the roots. And, don’t forget mulch, four inches deep and six inches from the tree trunk.

Plus, it’s the ideal time of year to get trees in the ground. “This and fall are the best times to plant trees. This is the absolute best time to get out there and get some trees in the ground,” Preble says.

Trees also provide benefits to your home by helping to regulate the microclimate of your yard. Preble discussed the benefits of growing a tree in the yard.

Well, there’s the esthetics to begin with. After that, you’ve got the savings on heating and cooling in your house. The resale of a home is far greater when you have mature, beautiful trees out front. There’s a lot of reasons. But that’s kind of the top reasons there.”

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