Planting Trees

Planting trees is a fun way to act green and help the environment. All trees, as you now know, make oxygen and take away carbon dioxide. They also hold the soil with their roots, add shade and shelter for wildlife, cool the air temperature, lower noise pollution, and block wind. They are worth adding to your neighborhood!

Trees are amazing living things. They have the longest lives of any organism on Earth. Each tree makes 260 pounds of oxygen a year. An acre of trees supplies enough oxygen in a year for eighteen people to breathe. One of the tallest trees known on Earth is a giant redwood sequoia in California. It is 275 ft. (84 m) tall. That's a lot of oxygen-making potential!

Four Fast Fixes

Choose words from the dark box that rhyme with each of the words in the sentences below. Write them on the lines provided. When you are finished, you will learn four things you can do to help save energy and resources! Hint: It helps to read each sentence aloud and slowly.

The Man Who Planted Trees

You have probably heard the name Johnny Apple-seed, but you might not have known that he was a real person. His name was John Chapman and he lived in Massachusetts in the late 1700s. He made a name for himself by exploring the frontier wilderness, mostly in bare feet, and planting apple trees wherever he went. He didn't just plant seeds either. He found a good spot in the wilderness, cleared the brush, planted seeds and built a fence to protect them from animals. Some of his orchards covered many acres. When settlers moved into the area to start farms, they were very happy to see apple orchards already grown and making fruit. Many orchards in western New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois are thought to have been started by John Chapman's seeds. Some think he planted millions of seeds in his years in the wilderness.

Picking Trees to Plant

There are a few ways you can get trees to plant. You can ask your parents to call your county cooperative extension, soil and water conservation district, or just a local nursery. The best time to plant trees is in the spring when it is still cool. Then the tree has all summer to grow and take root. If you want to order a bunch of little trees, you usually have to do this by March and the trees will come in April. Trees can start out the size of your finger. These are called seedlings. You can plant them in paper cups on your windowsill for a couple of weeks if you aren't ready to plant them outside. Seedlings are a good way to plant a lot of trees. Not all of them will survive, so it's good to plant more than one. You can order trees that are a little bigger too. These are called “transplants.” These may have a better chance at survival, but are a little more expensive to buy. Some types of trees are easier to grow than others. Evergreens such as white pines do very well being moved or “transplanted” and grow fast. You should know what kinds of trees do well in your area before you order trees to plant. Ask someone at your local nursery.

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Taming Wild Trees

You can also transplant little trees that have seeded in your yard or a vacant lot nearby. These are baby trees that will not make it because they are in the shadow of bigger trees or will be cut down when the town mows. Fill a paper cup with soil and, using a little garden shovel, dig around the roots of your baby tree and plant it in your cup. Make sure the roots are pointing down and water the tree well. Then place it on your windowsill in the sun until you are ready to replant it.

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Start a Tree-Planting Club!

Order ten trees for each person in the club. They can each plant their trees somewhere in their yard, schoolyard, or neighborhood (always ask your principal at school or neighbors before planting trees on or near their property). If you have ten members, that's 100 trees you've added to the world!

Getting Started Planting Trees

When you are ready to plant your trees, pick the right spots for them. Trees grow very tall and spread out. Look at the trees in your neighborhood. See how big they get? Make sure to plant your trees at least ten feet apart and in a place they will get plenty of sun.

  • Dig a hole that gives plenty of room for your tree's roots to point down and spread out.

  • Loosen the soil all around the hole so the tiny roots can grow quickly.

  • Pour some water in the bottom of the hole.

  • Set the tree in the hole with the roots down and fill in around it with the dug-up dirt. You can add compost to the soil to help give it a healthy start.

  • Water it generously. If it doesn't rain in the next few days, you should water your trees by hand to get them off to a good start.

  • Check on your trees often. You can feel good knowing that someday you will sit in the shade of your trees. You have done the earth a kind service.

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