Trees provide us with many benefits. Trees offer food and shelter for wildlife, stabilize soils, increase aesthetic appeal and create recreational opportunities. Planting trees can be a rewarding experience but it can also be time-consuming and expensive. Follow these steps and tips before making a purchase to ensure the best results. 


    Match your planting location to your property objectives

    For example, if raising cattle is a property objective, resources can help determine the range productivity (pounds per acre per year of grass produced) on all the soils on your property. In this case, focus on keeping the best grass-producing areas for cattle, while using less productive areas as surrounding wildlife habitat.
    Map My Property is a helpful tool to find answers about a specific planting site including soil characteristics. 

    Match tree species to site factors

    Assessing the soil type and the soil’s normal moisture content are important in choosing appropriate tree species. After narrowing down the list, attributes of tree species like whether or not they provide shade, or produce fruit or bank stabilizing roots become important to consider. 
    For example, common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) planted in an upland, would not survive or grow well and would provide almost no environmental benefit. However, when planted on a stream bank, buttonbush can help stabilize soils, are used by honey bees and their seeds are a food for ducks.


    Assess factors that may lead to failure


    • Lack of water during the first year to two years after planting
    • Sunscald occurring during winter on thin-barked trees such as red oak
    • Prolonged standing water after heavy rains


    • Deer seeking out new trees to eat or rub their antlers against
    • Cattle can trample or push over trees
    • Rabbits can chew through small stems


          Newly-planted trees can be stolen, driven over, mowed-over or the soil around them compacted to prevent root growth.


    The good news is that most situations can be avoided to accomplish successful planting. Contact a TFS forester or other professional forester (PDF, 66KB) to assess and go over measures you can take to improve success on your property. 


     + Tree Planting Tips
    • Planting should take place in late fall with container trees; however, winter planting with bareroot seedlings may also be acceptable in bottomlands. 
    • Dig as wide a hole as possible, but not too deep. Plant with the root collar (point at which stem becomes root) at the soil surface. 
    • Water the new tree slowly, immediately after planting. 
    • During the first year, water as deeply and as often as possible. Watering once every one to two weeks is best.
    • Place mulch around the tree and/or a fabric weed barrier to help keep weeds from taking up important soil water and provide insulation for the soil during hot periods.
    • Place a metal or wire cage around the tree preferably four feet in diameter to prevent damage.
    • For more information on tree selection, planting and care, visit