Benefits of Trees

Trees have a direct impact on our quality of life. In both urban and rural settings, they help improve lives in many ways, including ecologically, socially and economically. Planting trees is one small way each of us can help build greener and healthier communities across Canada.

Learn about all the benefits trees provide:

Pre-planting Logistics

Before you get started, consider these factors to make sure you’re planting the right tree in the right place:

  • Tree Selection: Would a coniferous or deciduous tree work better for your goals? Think about what the tree will look like at maturity. Do you need something that can withstand drought, or is your soil moist? Is the soil sandy, clay, or loam? Learn how to identify the conditions you wish to plant your tree in. A tree’s shape, height, size and its function in your landscape will determine the best tree to plant in a particular location.
  • Species: Tree Canada encourages planting native species appropriate to your local climate, light, soil and moisture conditions. Consult verified resources online or someone at a nursery or garden centre about native species in your region.
  • Nearby Infrastructure: Before digging, request underground utility locates to check for buried cables. Call your municipality for assistance. Avoid planting trees close to overhead utility lines, overhanging buildings or other mature trees. Trees should not be planted within 2 metres of sidewalks, light posts or buildings.

The best time to plant trees is typically in the fall or spring. However, your area’s environmental conditions are far more important than the month on your calendar. Soil temperatures and water availability are the main factors that indicate if it’s a good time to plant trees.

  • Soil temperature should be consistently at, or above, 10 degrees Celsius to ensure root development and nutrient storage, both of which are important after transplant. The weeks right before leaves emerge in the spring, and after leaves have fallen in the fall, are a great time to plant trees as the soil is warm and trees focus their energy on growing roots instead of leaves.
  • Water availability is critical year-round and often determines whether young trees can heal from transplant shock and fully establish themselves in their new location. Whether it’s through natural precipitation or manual watering, trees will grow more easily when they have a consistent water supply in the first few years after planting.

Transport: Protect your tree well during transport by padding the trunk and branches gently with burlap and tying loose ends with soft rope or twine.

Storage: Plant your tree as soon as possible after delivery. If planting is not possible right away, store the tree in a cool, shaded area and water as needed to keep the roots and soil moist.

Planting Steps

Follow these steps to minimize stress to your trees, prepare the planting spot and plant your tree with care:

Step 1: Dig a hole

  • The hole should be two to three times wider than the container.
  • Don’t dig too deep. Planting depth is very important and can often lead to premature tree death if incorrect.
  • When placed in the hole, the tree’s root collar (i.e., where the roots join the main stem or trunk) should be flush with or slightly above ground level.

Step 2: Plant the tree

  • For trees in containers, gently slide the root ball out of the pot and into the hole.
  • Root balls should be loosened to discourage girdling. You can also roughen the sides and bottom of the hole to promote root penetration.
  • For burlapped trees, place the root ball in the hole and gently cut away the wire basket and burlap.
  • Plant the tree so that its root collar is flush with or slightly higher than ground level and the tree is vertical.

Step 3: Secure the tree

  • Fill the hole in and around the root ball with the soil that was removed.
  • Do not return any grass or sod to the hole.
  • Gently pack the soil around the root ball until the hole is two-thirds full to remove air pockets.
  • Fill the remaining space with water to settle the soil and allow the hole to drain.
  • Finish filling the hole with soil and apply 5 cm of soil in a circle around the root area to direct water towards the roots.

Tree Maintenance

Take your tree care to the next level. From roots to leaves, here are five ways to nurture trees for long-term growth: 

1. Mulch

Mulch helps to reduce the growth of weeds and grass, retain water in the soil, minimize temperature fluctuations, and provide a slow release of nutrients. Apply 5-10 cm of mulch in a circle around the root area, ensuring it doesn’t touch or crowd the trunk.

2. Water

Watering helps keep the soil moist and healthy. Water trees immediately after planting and then on a weekly basis, depending on rainfall. Keep an eye on the weather and monitor for signs of drought stress on your tree.

3. Stake

Staking trees is not necessary unless they are exposed to high winds or if the soil is shallow. If you do choose to install stakes, be sure to remove them after one year so the trees can strengthen on their own.

4. Prune

Pruning improves branch spacing and promotes a strong structure for your tree. Remove dead, damaged or rubbing branches at planting, or when the tree is dormant in late fall or early spring.

5. Fertilize

Avoid adding fertilizer unless soil tests indicate a need for specific minerals and nutrients.