Tips for Tree Planting

Whether you just closed on a new home with TRELORA or are hoping to list with us down the road, you’re probably already in search of ways to maintain or increase your home’s value. When it comes to simple investments (and our company color), we find it best to go green! Maintaining attractive foliage around your property increases its curb appeal immensely. An easy way to start your green initiative is by planting a tree.

A Tree is the Most Basic Investment. 

A small amount of cost and labor, followed by some simple care and maintenance, produces value that grows — literally — every year for the foreseeable future, offering beauty, shade, and potentially increasing a home's value by ten percent or more.

While it's usually okay to plant a tree any time of year, fall is the best season to help trees establish their roots and grow well. Here are some tips to help yours get a healthy start:

Pick the right type of tree. 

Choose tree species that are well adapted to Colorado's semi-arid climate. While many species available in local nurseries will survive winter, some carry higher risks of diseases or are likely to require more water or work. Shade trees such as elms, oaks and maples do especially well on the Front Range. If a conifer brings the Colorado curb-appeal you desire, most species of spruces and pines thrive east of the Rockies. Look online to find a comprehensive list of species that reliably thrive on the Front Range, and be sure to investigate the size, requirements and rate of growth to make sure it fits your needs for the place you want to plant it.

Select a healthy specimen. 

At your local nursery, you want to select a tree wisely to ensure the best chance of healthy growth. While it's tempting to focus on a large tree with a lot of foliage, the most important aspect for a tree's survival is its roots — there should be a healthy, even root system but roots should not cross or wrap around each other. It is also more stressful for a tree to be planted at a larger size, and in some cases a tree planted while it is still small will get a healthier start and surpass the size of tree planted at the same time at a larger size. Finally, a straight trunk with a clear "leader" and no crisscrossing branches will develop a stronger crown.

Choose a good site. 

Contrary to what most people think, tree roots don't grow deep; they spread across the ground and are most abundant in the top 8 inches of soil. Make sure your site has a wide ring of mulched soil to grow in, and beware of sidewalks and foundations that could be cracked by aggressive roots. A large shade tree should be at least 20 feet from a house and at least 5 feet from a driveway or sidewalk. Trees planted in lawns should be surrounded with a collar of mulch — not grass — to avoid damage from a lawn more or weed trimmer.

Don't plant the tree too deep. 

The number-one mistake that homeowners make is planting a tree too deep — even a few inches too deep can encourage roots to wrap around and choke off the trunk as it grows, or cause the base of the tree to rot. This is the reason why so many young trees decline, start to lean, or die about 10 years after being planted. It's important to plant trees at a level where the "root flare" — the part of the trunk that begins to visibly widen just above the roots — remains above the soil. The uppermost roots should just barely be covered with soil. Mounding the soil or mulch around the tree can help. Get more info about planting depth here.

Proper care for the first few years is essential. 

The first few years of growth are the most important for a tree to develop a strong, healthy structure. If you choose to stake a tree, do not leave stakes on for more than a year — allowing the tree to sway will stimulate a stronger trunk.
A new tree doesn't need pruning the first year — leaving as much foliage and branches as possible provides the most energy to developing roots. During the second year or later, remove crisscrossing branches or branches that compete with the trunk.