Neighborhood scene with dog walker and biker.

Tree Planting for the Oakland EcoBlock

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Sherwood Design Engineers is working with the Oakland EcoBlock residents to select the best trees for their homes. But how do you successfully plant a tree? Fortunately, you can follow these simple steps:

When to Plant

Sapling trees should be planted during a dormant season, but container trees or healthy balled and burlapped trees may be planted during the growing season. Planting during cool weather reduces evaporative losses and thermal stress on the tree. Be mindful of times of high water conservation, as regular watering is often necessary for root uptake and establishment.

The Planting Process

  1. Identify the perfect location
    • Stay 5’ from above ground utilities (i.e., poles, hydrants, driveway edges, buildings)
    • Chat with your neighbors to make sure you leave ~20’ between trees
  2. Dig a hole that is about 2-3x wider and 1x as deep as the root ball. Make sure to water the hole.
  3. Remove any root ball covering
    • Massage the matted mass of roots to loosen them, but don’t dislodge too much of the soil
    • Straighten or cut any circling and bound roots
  4. Lift the tree by the root ball (not the trunk) and place it in the hole
    • Make sure the root crown (where the trunk extends from the base) is visible just above ground level
    • Look at the trunk from several places and make sure it is standing upright
  5. Refill the hole gently, packing soil around the root ball to stabilize the tree
    • Water and tamp down the soil as you go to reduce air pockets—do not over compress the soils as air and water movement is essential for tree health
  6. Mulch!
    • Place 2-3” thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree to retain moisture
    • Capturing moisture against the bark might cause decay, so leave a 1-2” unmulched gap around the base of the trunk
    • After planting, water the tree and surrounding soil slowly and deeply
  7. Take a picture in front of your house to remember the moment! With your care, the tree will grow big and tall!

For more details on tree planting, check out Trees of Oakland and the USDA’s Tree Owner’s Manual.

Tree Care After Planting

As we all know, taking up roots and moving is hard—the trees experience a similar type of stress when finding a new home! Trees often exhibit “transplant shock,” slowing growth after planting. Good follow-up care helps to restore the health of the tree after planting.

Water at least once a week if there is no rainfall, or more often during particularly hot, windy weather. The watering schedule can be reduced during the late fall and winter months. Watering should occur in the early morning or late evening to avoid unnecessary evaporative loss from the soil surface.

Next Steps for the Oakland EcoBlock

Sherwood Design Engineers will be coordinating with the Friends of Sausal Creek to plan potential tree delivery from local sources and for planting assistance. Our team can also connect participating EcoBlock households with a local organization for quarterly tree maintenance guidance.

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