Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner : Spring is Planting Season! Mulch, Prune, & Grow!

CFN –  This gardening season, don’t forget your trees.  With the gardening season underway, the Urban Forest Stewardship Network (UFSN) is calling on residents in communities across Ontario to help trees in their yards and neighbourhoods. Our trees often times exist in stressful conditions.  Drought, air pollution, salt spray, competition with overhead utilities and root damage during construction are just a few of the hardships we ask our trees to endure. This spring, we can give our trees a little extra TLC with these top five care tips:

Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place.  When planting new trees, make sure to match the species of tree you choose to the light, soil and space conditions of your yard.  Be sure to “look up” so you don’t plant under hydro wires and always call before you dig!  Trees provide us with the benefit of shade, cover, oxygen, beauty and sometimes food.  Consider planting a tree that will put food on your table and provide sustenance for our local wildlife.

Water Regularly.  Both newly planted and mature trees need regular watering.  Each week, feel the soil near the base of your tree.  If dry, give it a long, slow soak.  A good time to do this is first thing in the morning.

Mulch Regularly.  Mulch (woodchips, leaves, compost) retains moisture, provides nutrients, prevents soil compaction, and creates a protective space around your tree.  Spread mulch three inches deep around the base of your tree, ensuring the mulch does not touch the trunk of the tree as this causes decay.

Prevent Damage.  Avoid digging near trees or compacting soil which can cause root damage.  Insure you do not damage the bark at the base of the tree with your weed whacker.  Ninety per cent of a tree’s roots are located in the top two feet of soil and can extend up to three times the width of the canopy. Use organic alternatives to fertilizers and pesticides.  Remove stakes anchoring your newly planted trees after one year.

Prune Properly.  Educate yourself on proper tree pruning.  Your local plant nursery is a great source of information.  Hire a certified arborist and investigate their reputation by speaking with previous clients.

The Urban Forest Stewardship Network ( is an online resource for organizations, community groups and individuals working on urban forest initiatives across Ontario. It is a platform for sharing experiences and resources. Anyone interested in trees and urban forest issues is welcome to join!

The steering committee of the UFSN includes: LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests), Neighbourwoods on the Grand, Peterborough Green-Up and ReForest London. The UFSN is supported by Ontario Power Generation’s Biodiversity Program ( which is aimed at getting Ontarians involved in protecting and conserving biodiversity.

Plant some hope for tomorrow…plant a tree or two this spring.

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1 Comment

  1. The title image was taken this week in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. This image reminds me of the interconnectedness of all things. This wonderful hardwood forested area provides the ideal environment for trilliums (the white and red flowers in the foreground) and this photographer/writer. Enjoy the wonderful gifts of spring everyone.

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