Help With Planting Trees

April is Arbor Month and a new five-minute video produced by the Iowa DNR aims to help residents learn to properly plant trees and avoid very common mistakes—vital to the longevity of new plantings.

“Learning to correctly plant trees really determines the longevity of that tree’s life,” said DNR urban forestry specialist Gabbi Edwards. “What we find at tree planting events is that people are wide-eyed during the planting instructions. They say ‘Oh my, I’ve always planted trees all wrong.’ But the video can easily help them do it the right way.”

Common errors such as planting roots too deep or too shallow, or not removing encircling roots can lead to improper rooting and other issues years later. Improperly mulching—especially with mulch mounded up around the tree trunk—can lead to rot and also dramatically shorten the life of the tree.

That’s where the video comes in.

“We wanted a short and concise video that people could use as a resource,” said Edwards. She says improperly planted trees more easily succumb to wind and storms or may look otherwise healthy, but then suddenly die in just 20 years. But with a proper start at planting, that same tree may live a century or more.

With widespread tree losses across the state due to old age, pests and the derecho, Iowans are more interested than ever in restoring lost trees to add beauty, shade and habitat to their properties.

“The derecho has provided a blessing in disguise,” she says. “People are now looking at the diversity of the tree canopy in their communities and have the ability to restart and move towards planting a greater variety of tree species” which aids wildlife and reduces impacts of tree pests, she said.

To view the video go to