N.E. MICHIGAN - Spring time is tree planting time

Welcome to another Conservation Corner! After a few months of trudging through the snow, scraping ice off the car, and filling the woodstove, we are all ready for a sunny, warm spring. To the Crawford-Roscommon Conservation District and many of the landowners we serve, spring also means it’s time to plant some trees.

Districts around the state are taking in orders for their annual sale of hardwood and conifer trees, wildlife shrubs, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. Tree planting may seem like a daunting task, but getting your tree off to a healthy start will ensures it provides tree-mendous benefits throughout its lifetime.

Knowing your goals for the tree planting is the first step to a successful outcome. Timber production, wildlife habitat, privacy, shade, diversity, erosion control, these are all examples of what a planting can provide for you and your property. Evaluate your planting site and take note of existing vegetation, wildlife activity/browse, soil texture and moisture, sun availability, and any other conditions such as slopes or valleys that may affect plant growth.

The natural surroundings of your planting site will help guide what you can plant there, but non-natural features should also be considered. Be sure to avoid planting large trees or shrubs under power lines, near septic fields, or close to structures, driveways, or sidewalks. Know the location of and avoid all underground electric, water, and gas lines.

Now that you know why and where you are planting, it’s time to pick out some trees! Local conservation districts and nurseries are a great source for native, healthy stock that is adapted to the areas climate and weather. There are many resources available to figure out what tree or shrub would do best in your conditions, but the easiest way to ask the seller to narrow down the species based on your site and goals. Many conservation districts have foresters that may even provide an onsite assessment.

After choosing your trees, it is time to prepare the site for planting. For small scale plantings, scrape away any weeds within a 36inch diameter circle. Herbicides can be used, but be sure to read labels to avoid hurting your trees. Keeping weeds from outgrowing your tree is one of the most important steps for their survival. Planting can be done using a shovel, planting bar/dibble, or mechanical tree planter. With any method, the hole should be deep enough for the roots to go straight down and watered immediately. Trees should be spaced out properly based on the planting goals and species.

The last step is an ongoing one: Don’t forget about your tree planting. Water seedlings in times of drought, keep weeds away from your planting site, and protect trees with tubes or cages if they are being damaged by wildlife. Taking the time to check in on your investment is the only way to achieve your planting goals.

Planting trees can be a rewarding experience. As a landowner, the benefits can be immeasurable, from the enhanced beauty of your property to the legacy left for future generations. Tree planting is also doing your part to care for the wildlife, increase biodiversity, clean the air we breathe and water we drink, and create a sustainable ecosystem here in Northern Michigan.

To discuss your tree planting with District Forester, Tabitha O’Dell, or for more information on the Conservation District’s Spring Tree Sale, call 989-732-4021 or email tabitha.odell@macd.org.

 

 

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