Arbor Day is April 24, 2015. To show support for Arbor Day, we should all go out and plant at least one tree. If you don’t have room for one in your yard, trees can be donated to parks and schools or you can go to the Arbor Day Foundation and donate a tree to be planted in one of our Nation’s forests. Nebraska didn’t always have as many trees in it as it does today, so take some time on Arbor Day to plant a tree to ensure that we have trees for years to come.
Deciding what tree to plant is half of the battle when planting a tree. There are so many great tree selections that will grow very well in our Nebraska Environment. ReTree Nebraska is an affiliate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that focuses on “raising public awareness of the value of trees and reverse the decline and improve the sustainability of community trees and forests”. ReTree has been working on a list of great trees for Nebraska, each year adding more trees to that list. The list for 2015 includes Hackberry, Sycamore, Baldcypress, Catalpa, Kentucky Coffeetree, Elm Hybrids, Hackberry, Sugar and Bigtooth Maple, Chinkapin Oak, Bur Oak, English Oak, Shantung Maple, Miyabe Maple, Gambel Oak, Tree Lilac, Concolor Fir, Black Hills Spruce, and Ponderosa Pine. Any of these would be great choices for your yard, but diversity is the key when planting trees. The 2 trees added to the list for 2015 were Hackberry and Sycamore.
Hackberry is a great tree for Nebraska because it is regionally native and adapted to our ever-changing Nebraska environment. The leaves have an uneven base and typically are found with a gall on the leaves due to the Hackberry psyllid. These galls are not harmful to the tree, they are just an aesthetic nuisance. It is a great tree for pollinators as well.
Sycamore is another great tree. Sycamore trees grow very large, up to 100 feet tall with a massive trunk. The leaves on a sycamore tree are tri-lobed and are 4-10 inches long and slightly wider than they are long. Sycamore trees have unique camouflage bark that opens up to a white base.
Another very important factor that you need to keep in mind when planting trees, would include how to plant a tree correctly to ensure healthy growth. First of all, remove all of the burlap and any other materials from the root ball before planting. Be sure to also remove any tags, twine, or wire from the tree. Remember to remove all the grass and weeds that are within the area you will be planting the tree. Dig a hole that is 2-3 times wider and no deeper than the root ball and loosen up the sides of the hole. Plant the tree so that root flare is at the soil surface. Do not amend the soil that is in the hole, backfill with the existing soil. Make sure that the entire root ball is covered with soil to avoid drying out. Add a mulch ring at least two to three feet out from the base of the tree and only 2-3 inches deep.
Staking a tree is not a mandatory practice. If you do have to stake the tree due to high winds, make sure that the tree has plenty of movement to allow it to build stronger roots. Also be sure that the staking material is removed after the first year to avoid the tree being damaged by the staking materials.