Plant a tree, help the world
New Richmond fourth-graders spent April 22 at Hatfield Park as an early celebration of Arbor Day.
Fourth-graders learned about pruning, identifying and planting trees. At the end of the day, each class planted a tree near the Hatfield Park Campground.
Planting a tree is the easiest way to beautify the city, said Dennis Ullom, owner of St. Croix Tree Service.
He told each student to observe their surroundings at Hatfield Park. After a minute, he told the students to close their eyes and imagine the same scene without the trees.
"Does it look different?" he asked.
The answer: Very.
The annual Arbor Day celebration began in 2007 when 13, 10-foot trees were planted along Richmond Way by Westfield Hospital. Last year 13 trees were planted at Mary Park.
After learning the proper way to plant trees from Ruth Hilfiker, Commercial Horticulture Educator with the UW-Extension, students helped plant a variety of bare root and container trees at the Hatfield Park Campgrounds.
Proper planting is the best way to ensure a tree's survival, Hilfiker said. Planting too deep is the leading cause of tree death.
Here are Hilfiker's tips to ensure you plant a healthy tree:
Select trees with a 1-1 1/2 inch caliber. Studies have shown that a 1 1/2 inch caliber tree will grow to the same size after four years as a 4-inch caliber tree, because the younger tree adjusts easier and grows quicker.
Select an area that has good drainage to plant your tree. Remove any grass sod from the area where you will be planting out to about 3 feet from the trunk. Competition for water and nutrients from grass is a major cause of young tree death. If you are planting a bare root tree never let the roots dry out and plant immediately upon bringing it home.
Identify the root collar of the tree - the swollen area at the base of a tree just above where the upper most root comes out from the trunk. The root collar may be covered with soil if the tree was planted too deep at the nursery.
Measure the distance from the bottom of the root ball to the root collar. Carefully remove soil from the top of the root ball to expose the root collar. The goal is to set the tree in the hole so the root collar is either level with or 1 to 2 inches above finished grade.
If you are planting a balled and burlap or containerized tree, dig a planting space two to three times wider than the root ball, but no deeper. If you are planting a bare root tree, dig a hole wide enough to let the roots spread out straight. For bare root and container trees put a 6-inch mound of topsoil in the bottom of the hole to support the roots. Balled and burlapped trees can be placed directly in the hole.
Before placing a tree in its planting space, remove all tags, ribbons and trunk guards.
To avoid root damage, don't drag or lift the tree by the trunk. Gently guide the tree into the planting hole. Keep the root ball intact with container trees and untangle and cut any encircling roots. Carefully and completely remove twine, wire or wooden basket and trim off burlap. If these materials are left on they will girdle the tree. Do not put ordinary commercial fertilizer in the planting hole.
Recheck to see that the root collar is either level with or 1 to 2 inches above finished grade.
Fill the hole with original soil. Water thoroughly to eliminate air pockets.
Mulch the area around the tree where you removed the sod with about 3-4 inches of wood chips or shredded bark. Keep the mulch about 3-6 inches from the trunk, creating a donut not a volcano layer of mulch around the tree.
Water the tree every day for about the first 10 days and weekly if there is not at least an inch of rain. Watering is important for the first 3 years after planting. If you live on a sandy soil, consider watering twice a week instead of just once a week. Deep watering is better for trees than light sprinkling.
The New Richmond Urban Forestry Committee was formed in 2005 under the leadership of Joe Kerlin, parks and recreation director. In 2005 - 2006 an extensive tree inventory was done.
Members of the Urban Forestry Committee organizing this years Arbor Day celebration include: Joe Kerlin, parks department; Dennis Ullom, owner of St. Croix Tree Service; Greg Bonnes, owner of New Richmond Tree Service; Ruth Hilfiker, Commercial Horticulture Educator for St. Croix and Pierce counties with UW-Extension; Paul and Sherrill Schottler, owners of St. Croix Valley Tree; Carolyn Craig, Willow River Garden Club; and Mayor Dave Schnitzler.
The city has been trying to follow guidelines for tree planting within a city as suggested by Laura Jull, woody ornamental specialist at UW-Madison. The guidelines include:
Plant no more than 30 percent of a family.
Plant no more than 20 percent of a genus.
Plant no more than 10 percent of a species.
Ruth Hilfiker contributed to this article.