How to Plant a Tree for Arbor Day


Arbor Day is an American holiday. One of the most advocated methods of celebrating Arbor Day is to plant a tree for Arbor Day. You can join the Arbor Day Foundation and receive free trees to plant. Once you have a tree you should follow common guidelines to plant the tree in your yard. After you have successfully planted a tree for Arbor Day, you can enjoy and celebrate the holiday each year as you watch the tree grow.

Step 1

Locate a suitable site for the tree. Choose a site that allows the tree room to grow both above ground and below ground. Root systems can break apart patios, driveways, septic systems and wells. Keep tall and large trees such as maple, oak or pine away from power lines and buildings where they would branch out over the roof. Plant deciduous trees on the on the west, east or south side of the property for shade in hot months; plant red maple, Japanese maple or evergreen along the west and north of the property as windbreaks.

Step 2

Call local utilities before digging. Tell them where you are planning to plant a tree for Arbor Day. They will tell you if there are cables or pipes you must watch for. Move the location to another nearby spot if this becomes the case.

Step 3

Measure the circumference of the rootball. Dig an area three times larger than the diameter of the rootball or bigger. Dig a depth as deep as the rootball if the soil is clay; for sandy soil dig the depth 3 inches less than the height of the rootball. Keep the bottom of the hole undisturbed. Put the soil aside.

Step 4

To the soil which you dug out, add compost or peat. Use an amount equaling 25 percent of the volume of the removed soil; this will add minerals and nutrients to the backfill soil which you will add later over the roots.

Step 5

Plant to plant a tree for Arbor Day when the weather is cool and cloudy. To keep the tree healthy while waiting for planting day, keep it in a cool, protected and shaded spot. Keep the roots moist up to the time it they are planted by soaking them in the bucket of water the night before planting.

Step 6

Remove any covering from the rootball. Put the tree in the center of the hole in an upright position. Gently pull some of the roots loose; make a slight slit in the sides of the rootball with your finger. Cut away any rope around the trunk and remove any burlap covering.

Step 7

Backfill the hole, covering in around the roots first. Fill up the entire hole. Avoid tamping down on the soil with your feet or shovel. Keep the soil loose for the roots to take hold underground. Use the watering in the next step to settle the soil.

Step 8

Water the ground with a low pressure hose or bubbling method. Setting a drip irrigation system over the area or using a far reaching sprinkler system. Allow the water to make the soil as damp as possible without soaking it. If the soil settles, add more backfill to even out the soil with the surrounding ground. Dig a trowel at the edge of the planting area for testing of the soil moisture. Check for moisture content by picking out a handful of soil. Form a ball with the soil; if the ball stays together you do not need to water the area.

Step 9

Lay a mulch over the ground where you planted a tree for Arbor Day. Use natural mulch made of leaves, wood chips or pine needles. Keep the mulch loose so water and air can penetrate below it to the roots. Use a fabric weed barrier to control weeds.


  • Colorado State University -- Planting a Tree on Arbor Day
  • University of Vermont -- Arbor Day
Keywords: Arbor Day, plant a tree, tree planting

About this Author

William A. Swan is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles relating to business, finance, travel, history and health. His current focus is on pets, gardens, personal finance and business management.