Planting Your Own Tree
Privately planted trees are not subject to any restrictions on species, size or location as long as the tree is planted within your property lines and outside of the City easement. The Community Services Department would be happy to offer any assistance it can in answering questions or concerns you have about planting your own tree. Here are a few basic recommendations:
Picking the Right Tree
Purchase a tree that is large enough to handle the area it will grow in. Generally, trees planted from smaller-size containers (5-gallon or 15-gallon) with trunk diameter of at least a half-inch will grow faster and stronger than those planted from larger sizes. If your yard sees a lot of activity from children, dogs or party guests, then you may want to plant a 15-gallon tree at minimum.
Make sure the tree has evenly spaced branching with a strong leader (top branch). Avoid trees that have girdling roots (roots that grow in a circle around the inside of the container) as these will slowly "strangle" a tree over time. Be sure the nursery has the tree properly staked and tied. Consult a professional gardener, arborist or general plant book such as Sunset's Western Garden Book to help you select a species that suits both the purpose and location in which you wish to plant the tree.
For the best planting results, dig a hole as deep as the height of the root ball and twice as wide (see illustration below). To remove the tree from its container, gently lay the tree on its side, roll the container back and forth and press hard against the sides to loosen the soil. Ease the tree out, being careful to keep the root ball intact.
Place the tree in the hole and backfill as needed until the top of the root ball is slightly above the grade, but do not pile dirt on top of the root ball. Fill in the hole and tamp down the dirt as you go. This prevents air pockets from forming, which can dry out roots. After the tree is in the ground, build a six-inch basin around it using soil or rocks to direct water to the rooting area. Remove the original nursery stakes and stake the tree with two 10-foot-tall lodge pole pine stakes. Secure the trunk with a rubber-coated metal twist brace nailed to the stakes. Place a trunk guard around the tree to prevent bark injury from lawn care equipment. Add a layer of wood chips or mulch around the root zone to conserve water and prevent competition from weeds and grass.
How and when you water directly impacts the health of your tree. Shallow lawn watering wets only the top six inches or so of soil; this layer of soil also dries out quickly during hot weather. Consequently, tree roots grow close to the surface to get available water, and can cause lifting of sidewalks and driveways (especially species with normally shallow root systems, such as the Southern Magnolia).
As an alternative, water your tree infrequently but deeply. "Deep watering" reaches far below the soil's surface and encourages roots to grow downwards. It's healthier for your tree, far more efficient, and ultimately saves time, money and headaches.
To water deeply, lay a hose inside the basin and set the water speed at slow, even flow. Add enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches, the rooting depth of most urban trees. You may want to dig into the soil after a few minutes to see how far down the water has penetrated. This will give you an idea of how long you need to water and help you avoid over-watering your new tree. Water your tree often enough to keep the soil moist within the rooting area. A good rule of thumb is 20 gallons of water per 15-gallon tree as often as needed, usually about every 7-10 days. Do not depend on lawn sprinklers to provide enough water for a newly planted tree.
Tree Planting Instructions
- Till the soil for the planting hole in an area no less than twice as wide as the root ball (where possible, 4-5 times as wide is preferred). Roots grow best in loose soil with no air pockets: this allows good air and water penetration, and encourages deeper rooting.
- After tilling the soil, dig the planting hole just wide enough to accommodate the root ball. Dig the hole just deep enough to allow the top 2 inches of the root ball to remain above grade. Trees planted too low will often die from excess water, which accumulates in the planting hole and suffocates the roots.
- Do not use soil amendments, fertilizers, or "plant tabs" (except in very poor or very rocky soils). Use of amendments and fertilizers encourages roots to stay within the planting hole, which can severely shorten the lifespan of the tree.
- When tying the tree to the stakes, leave ties loose enough so that the tree can sway slightly. Tree trunks gain strength from movement in the wind.
- Use a layer (2-4 inches thick) of mulch after planting. Mulch helps conserve water and provides a slow release of nutrients, reducing any need for fertilizers.
How to Get a City Tree
Request a Replacement Tree
Call the Community Services Department at 909-399-5431 to request a replacement for a tree that has recently been removed. The tree shall be replaced at the City's expense (subject to time schedules and availability of funds).
Donate a Tree to the City
Call the Community Services Department at 909-399-5431 to request information on how to donate a street or park tree to the City. You'll be given a selection of appropriate species, sizes and relative costs for your particular tree gift, which will be ordered and planted for you by the City.
Note: All replacement or donation trees are subject to City-approved guidelines.