Birch trees are often planted in residential areas due to the ornamental qualities of the bark. A healthy birch will grow for 40 to 50 years, but many die by the time they are 20 years old. To prevent early death of birch trees, make sure the planting location is appropriate and the species is hardy for the growing zone. Birch seedling plants can be planted at any time during the growing season, as they are not affected by seasons the same way as mature trees are. Purchase seedlings at garden stores or dig sprouted seedlings growing in local areas.
Choose a location that is appropriate to a birch tree's characteristics. The north or east side of a home is preferred because they are sunny during much of the day, but offer shade at the soil level in the afternoon. The soil should be cool and moist.
Choose a birch type that fits the landscape plan. The cooler USDA Growing Zone 3 should plant native paper birch, while warmer zones should select the river birch varieties. White bark birch trees tend to grow better in cooler climates.
Contact the digger’s hotline at (800) 242-8511 to verify that the planting location is clear of underground power lines at least one week prior to planting the tree. This service is free to people residing in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. Check the front section of your local phone book for information on services available in your area.
Remove the seedling from the container by turning it over and tapping gently on the bottom. Carefully grasp the root ball as it slides out of the container, being cautious to prevent damaging the stem.
Dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball of the seedling tree and approximately 12 inches deep. Add enough compost to the hole so the root ball top is at the same ground level as it was in the container.
Pull larger roots from the ball with a screwdriver to stimulate new growth. Place the seedling in the hole and fill with soil. Gently compact the soil around the seedling to remove pockets of air.
Water the seedling and add three inches of mulch around the stem to assist with moisture retention. Install a wire cage or tree guard if rabbits or rodents are a problem in the area. Water once per week, giving the tree enough water to penetrate three to four inches into the soil when conditions are dry and rainfall is less than one inch per week.