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Dos and Don'ts: Planting Trees

Photo of family planting a tree in their yard.
Follow these safety tips for planting trees for energy conservation and curb appeal.

Whether you picked the perfect tree for privacy, shade or even the beautiful colors of its leaves in the autumn, it’s time to choose a spot and plant. But there are a few things to consider before digging a hole and piling on mulch. These tips can save you from making costly mistakes when planting a tree.


Plan for energy conservation

Pick trees that can help you save energy and money. Leafy trees with large crowns can shade windows on the south side of your house in the summer, and when the leaves fall, let in warming sunlight during the winter. Plant small evergreens on the west and north sides of your house to block chilling winter wind.

Consider tree height

Trees need enough space to grow. It may look small now, but that young tree may end up being larger than you’d expect. Consider how tall the tree will be when it reaches maturity as you choose the right spot in your yard.

Call 811

Ready to plant? Not so fast. Before picking up a shovel, call 811 and have someone mark the buried utility lines in your yard. It can take a few days for them to come out, so plan your landscaping schedule accordingly.


Plant trees too close together

Give young trees 5 or 10 feet of space so they don’t crowd each other as they grow. Evergreens planted too close together can succumb to pests and disease, and parts of the trees can even die if they don’t receive enough sunlight.

Plant under power lines

A tall tree that’s grown into a primary power line presents a huge safety hazard, and the energy company will have to trim your tree to avoid potential fires and other electrical dangers. Low-growing trees can be planted 15 feet away from the power lines, and trees over 35 feet tall should be at least 50 feet away.

Dig too deep

Planting too shallow can slow a tree’s growth and weaken it, but planting too deep can kill it. Leave a few inches of the root ball above the ground when you plant, and make sure the tree’s taper is visible above the soil.

It’s important to treat the soil and your growing tree properly after planting. Once the roots are fully covered, water the tree with low-pressure water and let the water settle into the soil. All that’s left is to enjoy your beautifully landscaped yard.

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