Man using shovel to dig hole before planting a tree.

How & When to Plant Trees in Minnesota

With the dry heat and high temperatures of summer behind us, now is a great time to plant trees in your yard. 

Why is fall the best time to plant trees, you ask? 

During the fall months, trees can focus on putting down their roots vs. growing branches and leaves, as they would if planted during the springtime. Still, depending on the type of trees you want to add to your landscape, you may need to get a move on if you’re hoping to plant this season. 

For example, evergreens need to establish their roots before the ground freezes as they are more sensitive to drying winter winds; however, you can plant deciduous trees like oaks and maples well into October.

Best Tree to Plant in Minnesota

Now onto the next question: which trees thrive in Minnesota? To answer this, you first need to understand our state’s plant hardiness zones, as this information will help you determine which plants will survive and thrive in your area.

Depending on where you live, Minnesota’s hardiness zones range between 3 to 4, as our state’s lowest temperatures fall between -20° F and -30° F. Therefore, you’ll want to select trees that can survive the winters yet still grow and produce foliage. 

A few tree options you may consider:

  • Oak Trees
  • Maple Trees
  • Crabapple Trees
  • Fir Trees

Before you choose a tree, however, there are a few other considerations you’ll need to make, including the size and shape of the tree, its preferred location, and its purpose (i.e., add privacy, create property lines, offer shade, etc.)

To help you decide, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provides a helpful guide on choosing the right trees and shrubs for your home. 

Lastly, be sure where you want to plant your tree is free of underground utilities. You can do this by visiting Gopher One and submitting a ticket to ensure you have the green light!

Don’t forget your soil!

As you begin to break ground, you’ll need to determine whether your soil is clay or sandy if you don’t already know. A simple way to do this is by grabbing a handful. Clay soil sticks together like a ball while sandy soil falls apart. 

Testing your soil for nutrient deficiencies is also necessary for healthy plant growth. Understanding your soil’s nutrient levels, textures, and structure can ensure your plants thrive!

Okay, ready for the fun part?

How to Plant Lawn Trees

As you can already tell, there’s a lot of prep work and planning before you can fill your lawn with trees. But once you choose the location and type of tree that best serves your landscaping goals, it’s time to dig! 

Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

Dig the hole

First, measure the width and height of the tree bulb (also called a root ball). Next, dig a hole at least 1.5x wider than the width of the bulb to give yourself room to work. Be sure the hole is deep enough so only a small portion of the root ball is exposed above grade. The root ball should be 1”-2” inches above grade in sandy soil and about 3”-4” above grade in clay soil.

Remove the container

If you’re planting a potted tree, you can remove the container before it goes into the hole. However, if you are planting a tree that arrived in a burlap sack, cut off part of the material, so it still holds the bulb together.

Put tree in hole

For trees in burlap sacks, lower the tree to one side, cut the rest of the container, and slowly roll it into the hole while unraveling the material. Next, slowly stand the tree upwards.

Straighten tree

Make sure your tree is completely straight before you begin filling in the hole. 

Fill the hole

Using fresh soil, begin filling the hole around the tree.

Install posts

Next, you’ll want to install 2 metal posts on each side of the tree and attach guy wires. This will help keep it straight during strong winds. Smaller trees can use stakes vs. posts. 

Use tree straps and wires

Secure a tree strap above the first row of branches of your tree. Next, use tree wire to connect the straps to the posts. Again, this will keep it in place.

Install fencing

If you share your property with woodland creatures (e.g., deer, woodchucks, etc.,) consider installing a fence around the posts to keep them away from the tree’s trunk and branches.

Water your tree

Trees need lots of water, so after planting your tree, water it every day for the first 1-2 weeks. When you reach the 3-6 weeks period, you can water 2x a week. Afterward, once a week should suffice. As with any plant in your landscape, be careful not to overwater your trees.  

Add mulch 

Mulch helps water stay around the tree, so it can quickly soak it up and keep moisture in that area. Use the mulch to create a dish shape around the tree. No mulch volcanoes!

Want More Lawn Care Tips?

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Contact us with questions or to learn more about our organic treatment programs.