Make an Impact, Plant a Tree

Posted by Megan Nichols on Apr 26th 2019

Arbor Day is April 26, 2019, and it’s the perfect time to think about planting a new tree. Check out some of the fun, ornamental varieties we’ll have this year (this list names just a few) and scope out that perfect spot in your landscape to add a new tree.

Velvet Viking Maple (NEW to the market)

Finally! A Japanese Maple hardy to our zone! This is one of the prettiest ones out there, too. Sharp-cut leaves, deep burgundy coloring, and weeping branches make this (super) dwarf tree irresistible. Full sun is best for northern zones (ehem… our zone). Just 3 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide in 15 years, this cutie will fit just about anywhere.

Serpentine Birch

This birch boasts branches that twist and sweep gracefully. At just 8-10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, this dwarf birch is a perfect garden solution for a slightly damp area, and will provide interest year-round, as the branches are interesting and unique even in winter. Full sun, evenly moist soil. Hardy to Zone 2.

Uncle Fogy Pine

The unique, curvy growth creates a living sculpture in the garden, and each one is different so each plant is like a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Extra fun tid-bit – this plant was discovered in Richfield, Minnesota! Hardy and easy to grow, Uncle Fogy does well in nearly any type of soil and can handle the temperature extremes of our state. Hardy to Zone 2.

Varied Directions Larch

Larch are fun and interesting to begin with, but this one looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Just like the name states, it grows any which way, and no two are the same. Larch look like evergreens but are actually deciduous, so they drop their oh-so-soft “needles” in Autumn. Hardy to Zone 2.

Variegated Norway Maple

Most maples make you wait for a show, but this one is spectacular all summer long with it’s beautiful, variegated leaves and impeccable shape. Bonus, it joins it’s color-changing kin and turns a pretty pinky-yellow in the fall. A perfect shade tree and perfect as a focal point, grow in full sun and be prepared to give it some space as it wants to become 40 feet tall and 35 feet wide. Hardy to Zone 4.

Snowdance Japanese Tree Lilac

This Japanese lilac is a prolific bloomer and smells divine. Bonus – this variety flowers consistently every year, rather than biennually! The dark green foliage is handsome even after flowers have faded, and the shelved branching makes this tree neat and attractive. 18-20 feet tall and wide, it will fit in nearly every landscape. Hardy to Zone 3, so plant one here and at the cabin. Full sun.

Double Weeping Rosebud Cherry Tree

Romantic, weeping branches are laden with delicate, pink flowers in spring. Early blooming (but later than most) make this one less susceptible to bud damage from late season frosts. At only 15-20 feet at maturity, it’s considered small for a tree, and will fit well in most landscapes. Full sun, hardy to Zone 4.

Hydrangea Trees

We’ve still got ‘em, and we still love ‘em (who doesn’t?)! Compact and showy, plant a hydrangea tree at the corner of a house or garage, in the center of a garden, or the entrance of the driveway – anywhere you will see it is perfect. For best results, stake for support for the first three or so years. Hardy to Zone 4, full sun.

How to Plant a Tree

You have a new tree to plant – here’s what to do next:
  1. Grab a bag of compost or planting mix, your shovel, and a hose or bucket of water.
  2. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide.
  3. Your tree is probably in a container. Lay the tree down on its side. Press gently all the way around the outside of the container to loosen the plant from the pot. Slide the pot off the root ball.
  4. Loosen the root ball with your fingers. If there are a lot of dense roots, use a serrated knife (our favorite garden tool, the hori hori, is the best tool for the job) to cut an “x” at the bottom of the root ball and 4 lines up the sides, about 1” deep. Proceed to loosen roots.
  5. Place your tree in the hole and be sure the top of the root ball is in line with the ground. If the root ball sits lower than ground level, add some soil to the bottom of the hole. If it sits too high, dig the hole a little deeper.
  6. When the tree is at the right level, begin to fill the hole with a mix of ¾ native soil (what you took out of the hole) and ¼ compost. Fill the hole with water when it’s halfway full of soil mix. When the water has soaked in, fill the rest of the way with soil and then water again.
  7. Mulch over the root ball of the tree, keeping mulch a couple inches away from the trunk. Remember, no mulch volcano! Mulch placed directly against a tree trunk can retain moisture and cause the tree to rot at the base and fall, so leave some breathing room.
Continue to water the tree weekly through the first growing season. Add extra winter protection by adding a layer of straw or march hay over the mulch (but not right up against the trunk) and use trunk wrap to protect from weather and keep rodents from eating the tender bark. Feeling inspired? Check out the Arbor Day Foundations Initiative to plant millions of trees as they prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day in 2022. Enjoy your tree for many years to come!