Learning how to plant a tree for Arbor Day or Earth Day is a fun and educational DIY gardening project for kids.
Every year the public is encouraged to plant and care for trees on Arbor Day, but planting one for Earth Day makes just as much sense. These easy gardening tips are perfect for schools, homeschoolers, and families.
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How to Plant a Tree for Arbor or Earth Day
Plant a tree for Arbor or Earth day. Be sure you read through the tutorial and tips that follow before starting this DIY gardening project.
This post is a part of the Get Outside & Connect Series. Click on the link to learn more about it. A brief history of Arbor and Earth day can be found below.
Arbor Day History
In the US, Julius Sterling Morton began Arbor Day in Nebraska in 1872 to help bring attention to the importance of trees.
Morton believed that trees were needed to serve as effective windbreaks, and would provide fuel and building materials. More than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day in the US.
Every year since then the public is encouraged to plant and care for trees on Arbor Day, but planting one for Earth Day would make just as much sense. They usually fall within a week of each other in the US. In the United States, Arbor day falls on the last Friday in April.
We are raising a helper so my daughter helps us with everything. Here she is helping grandma plant a young fig tree sapling. My mother has an amazing organic permaculture garden with over 50 varieties of fruit trees and bushes so we are always over at her house helping in the garden.
Earth Day History
In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin founded Earth Day. He held an environmental teach-in on April 22, 1970, because he was worried about the rate of industrialization and lack of care for the environment.
Most people have forgotten about the importance of Arbor day since the advent of Earth Day. May this post serve as a reminder of the importance of planting new trees no matter which holiday you prefer to celebrate!
How to Plant a Tree Supplies
- Young sapling from your local nursery or this Tree
- Shovel(s) and/or square garden spade
- Garden tarp (recommended)
- Gopher basket (recommended)
- Garden cart (optional)
My mother teaching my daughter how to dig a hole big enough for a tree sapling. You may also like 15 Ways to Raise a Helper.
How to Plant a Tree for Arbor Day or Earth Day Tutorial
1. Plant a small tree sapling as opposed to a larger tree in a large pot. Larger trees take a lot more work to plant.
2. Place dirt on a garden tarp as you dig it out, so that replacing the soil in the hole does not damage the surrounding area. Keep track of what soil was dug out first and what soil was dug out last.
3. Dig a square hole as opposed to a round one. When a tree is planted in a square hole the roots of the tree will grow into the soil around it, while round holes tend to cause the tree roots to circle and become root bound.
4. Use a gopher basket to keep the gophers and other rodents from eating the roots and killing the tree. As the tree grows the wire will gradually rust away, and will not constrain the roots.
We made ours using poultry netting. You can also find them at your local nursery or at the link above.
4. Use a hand cultivator to very gently tease out the roots of the tree after you remove it from the pot before you plant it in the ground. Carefully spread out the roots after you place it in the hole before covering with dirt to plant it.
5. Fill in the hole in the same order you dug it out. In other words, replace the dirt first that you dug out last, and replace the dirt you dug out first last. The idea is to keep the topsoil on top and the subsoil on the bottom. Not to worry… this is not an exact science. Do the best you can.
DIY Gardening Project: How to Plant a Tree Tips
1. If the tree has a graft (many fruit trees do), make sure it rests just above the soil line and does not get covered when planted. Also, make sure that the graft does not face south. You don’t want it getting hit by the hardest sun most of the day.
2. Do not add soil amendments to the hole unless absolutely necessary. The roots of the tree may not want to grow out of the soil you have amended if the surrounding soil is too different. In this case, they become root bound, just as if they were in a pot.
3. Water the tree in as you replace the soil in the hole. This will help the soil settle and eliminate air pockets. Trees and plants need to be watered regularly after they are planted, usually at least once a week for the first growing season. Remember, the tree does not have extensive roots at this time.
4. Clean up your garden tools so they don’t rust and put them away. Tools that are well taken care of will last a lot longer.
Learning how to plant a tree is a fun and educational DIY gardening project for the whole family. Teach your kids how to plant a tree using these simple tips for Arbor Day or Earth Day this year!