sealPurdue News

April 18, 1997

Spring's the best time to plant a tree

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's no accident that Arbor Day falls on April 25, since spring is the best time to plant a tree, according to a Purdue University expert.

In fact, some trees should only be planted in the spring, said Michael Dana, consumer horticulture specialist with the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

The benefits of trees are well-known. They provide oxygen, trap carbon dioxide, keep wildlife safe from pets and predators, shade the house from summer sun, block winter winds, beautify the neighborhood, and raise property values, Dana said. But putting the right tree in the right place takes some planning.

"Take the long view," Dana said. "Envision a full-grown tree at the proposed site and ask yourself: 'How tall will it grow? 'How wide will the canopy spread?' 'Where will the roots grow?' 'What might go where the roots will be?' Not anticipating tree size can be a big mistake."

Keep in mind power lines, lines of sight in front of windows and doors, and underground utilities and drains that might block roots or be blocked by them.

He also recommended checking the soil of the proposed tree-planting site before selecting a tree so you can better match the tree to ground conditions. Soil that is heavy, mostly clay or compacted will limit the choices of tree species.

Available sunlight, moisture and cold hardiness are other considerations to keep in mind.

"It's important to match the tree to the landscape rather than try to force a favorite species into unfavorable conditions," Dana said. "The choice of plants may be more limited, but the likelihood of long-term plant survival with minimal maintenance is much greater."

The specialist suggested these other tree planting tips

Source: Mike Dana, (765) 494-5923; e-mail,
Writer: Chris Sigurdson, (765) 494-8415; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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