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How to plant a tree

Planting a tree requires some planning. Call 811 or go online to www.kansasonecall.com before digging to avoid interfering with underground utility lines. Whether you call or make a request online, utility locations are marked on your property for free.

The Kansas One-Call website also advises keeping in mind the eventual spread of plant roots when deciding where to plant your tree.

How to plant a tree

1. Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and no deeper than the root ball.

2. If the tree is in a container, free the tree from the container by pushing in on the sides, and gently lift the tree out of the container.

Place the tree in the hole. Using a pocket knife or sharp shovel, slice through the sides of the root ball to free any roots that are starting to circle the tree.

If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, cut away the twine and cut off the top of the burlap after placing in the hole. If a wire basket is holding the root ball together, use wire cutters to remove the top half of the basket.

3. Fill the hole one-third full of the soil that was dug from the hole. If the soil is extremely heavy clay or pure sand, mix in organic matter such as compost. Stand away from the hole and make sure the tree is straight.

Ideally you would do this step before cutting off the top of the burlap and the wire basket.

4. Turn on the hose to a pencil-wide stream of water and let it run in the hole until it is half full of water. Let the water settle the soil.

5. Resume filling the hole with soil until it is full.

6. Place organic mulch in a ring around the tree, mounding it 2 to 3 inches and keeping it from matting around the trunk. The wider the better when it comes to mulch rings, but it should at least cover the planting hole.

7. Water the tree thoroughly across the entire mulch ring. Don’t fertilize.

8. Stake the tree if it’s in a windy site to anchor the root ball so that roots will get established. Place the stake at a southwest angle. Make sure ties will not cut into the trunk. Remove the stake after one growing season.

9. Water the tree once a week until the leaves drop off if rain is lacking, twice a week if it’s in sandy, well-drained soil. Once the leaves drop, a monthly watering (if there is no rainfall) when the soil is not frozen will help a newly planted tree. (If the tree is in an irrigated part of the lawn, you probably can reduce watering frequency.)

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