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Echo Press photo by Lowell Anderson Dawn Score, a teacher at Woodland Elementary School, helped a group of students plant trees around the school for Arbor Day last Friday. Students and staff planted about 2,300 trees throughout the day as part of the master plan for the site.

A 'tree-mendous' Friday

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Last Friday was a "tree-mendous" day in Alexandria.

It was Arbor Day and at least three different groups were busy planting trees.

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At Noonan Park, members of the Alexandria Garden Club put a tree into the ground Friday morning.

Across a pond in the same park, the Alexandria Tree Board conducted its annual tree planting.

Meanwhile, over at Woodland Elementary School, students made sure the school would live up to its "woodland" name by planting more than 2,300 seedlings.

Residents may want to follow the trend by planting their own tree but before they do, they should know how to do it correctly, advises the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

How a tree is planted and initially maintained makes all the difference in the world, according to ISA experts. Too many people are content to simply plant a tree and don't ensure that the tree has the chance to go on to live for many years, the organization noted.

"Planting a tree is making an investment in the future," says Sharon Lilly, ISA educational director in a news release issued on Arbor Day. "You must care for and nurture your young tree so that it will pay dividends for years to come."

Here are a few simple tips to remember when planting your tree:

Prepare the perfect

hole for planting

•Dig the hole two to three times the width of the root ball. Do not dig deeper than root ball depth. Make the sides of the hole slant gradually outward.

•For bare root trees, neatly cut away any broken or damaged roots. Soak the roots for a few hours prior to planting to allow them to absorb water.

•Container-grown trees should have the plastic or metal containers completely removed. Carefully cut through any circling roots. Remove the top half of pressed peat/paper containers.

•Balled and burlapped ("B&B") trees should have all of the ropes cut. Pull the burlap at least one third of the way down; slit remaining burlap to encourage root growth. If in a wire basket, cut away the top of the basket.

Plant the tree

•Gently place the tree in the hole.

•Partially back-fill with the soil from the hole.

•Water to settle the soil.

•Finish back-filling the hole.

•Tap the soil gently, but do not step on the root ball.

A few more pointers

While you may have finished planting, Arbor Day aficionados should remember these final touches:

•Remove tags and labels.

•Do not stake unless the tree has a large crown or if the planting is situated on a site where wind or people may push the tree over. Stake for a maximum of one year.

•Prune only the damaged branches.

•Soak the soil well, making sure no air pockets form between roots. Wait until next year to fertilize.

•Spread two to three inches of mulch over the planting area, but do not place it up against the trunk.

•Be sure the root ball has plenty of water throughout the year.

For additional information on planting and other tree care topics and to find a local ISA certified arborist, visit www.treesaregood.org.

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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