The benefits of planting a tree extend beyond the basics of shade and wildlife shelter. This Earth Day, which is April 22, consider the following tips from West Virginia University Extension’s Larry Campbell when deciding when and where to plant a tree.

Campbell, a WVU Extension Service agriculture agent in Harrison County, suggests considering the tree’s function, the site restrictions, the tree’s form, soil conditions and sun exposure when deciding what type of tree to plant.

“Think about how the space on the property is used,” he said. “A beautiful fruit tree in the back yard might seem like a good idea but could ultimately lead to more maintenance for the homeowner down the road when the tree matures and fruit must be cleaned up from the ground on a regular basis.”

Utility lines above the area for planting, as well as any that may run below the ground should be considered when selecting a site for planting. To determine if a tree could be problematic down the road, consider the height of the tree when it has reached maturity.

Once a selection has been made then, weather-permitting, it’s time to plant the tree. Trees should be planted in the spring or fall months, when the temperatures are less stressful on the transplant.

Campbell suggests starting with a properly sized planting hole. The hole should be the same depth as the root ball. Specific suggestions proper planning are available on the WVU Extension Service website at
A common mistake that planters often make is staking their trees, Campbell said.

“Trees will develop a stronger trunk and root system if they are not staked,” he said.

Finally, Campbell suggests mulching to help with moisture retention and to reduce weeds. Make sure to keep the mulch three inches or so away from the tree base to avoid trunk decay.

“Planting a tree seems like a small step but if properly cared for and maintained, your family can reap the benefits for generations to come,” Campbell said.

For more information on soils and landscapes, visit the WVU Extension Service Agriculture and Natural Resources website at, or contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service.



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CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service; office: 304.293.8735, cell: 304.376.1829