How to Plant Trees

Austrian pines with wrapped roots on tree nursery farm

In our region, September is thought to be an ideal month to plant new trees. The roots will have several months to get established before a freeze and the tree won’t be subject to extreme heat. After you have chosen a Climate Ready Tree (see reference in side bar), you can follow these steps:

  1. Dig a hole no deeper than the pot and 1 1/2 times the radius of the pot.
  2. Remove the tree from the pot or burlap.
  3. Check that the roots are not wrapped around the dirt ball. Gently try to straighten them out if they are. If they are wrapped too tightly, make a cut half an inch deep through the roots and into the root ball at 4 places, evenly spaced, around the root ball.
  4. Place the tree in the hole so the root collar (the bump where the trunk and roots join) is at ground level.
  5. Backfill using the same soil you dug out when making the hole.
  6. Place a couple inches of gravel going out 2-3 inches from the trunk. This will avoid the trunk rotting from moisture while the bark is getting established.
  7. Mulch 2-3 inches deep using wood chips.
  8. Water the area of the root ball well throughout the Fall down to 6 inches. (Push a trowel into the earth and check that the tip comes out with moist earth.) Then follow the Water Utility Authority’s recommended seasonal watering schedule.

But where do we get these trees?

The trees we buy from our retail nurseries come from stock either grown in NM or other states. The oldest grower of trees in the mid Rio Grande is Trees of Corrales. They began over 70 years ago as a field grower and recently have expanded to container growing as well. They wholesale trees, grasses and shrubs locally and to neighboring states.

Santa Ana pueblo has grown trees and shrubs for years and also had run a retail operation in Bernalillo. They have now switched to growing trees and shrubs to fill contracts with the forest service and others.

Sunland, growing in Las Cruces, Plants of the Southwest, growing in Galesteo, and Trees Which Please, growing in Los Lunas, all have their own retail outlets as well.

Tooleys, in Truchas, NM, specializes in fruit trees, mainly varieties of apples and wholesales only.

The growers in NM try to mix soil which more closely resembles our local soil and makes it easier for a tree to adapt when transplanted. All carry trees and shrubs native to the mid Rio Grande and many qualify for the ABCWUA rebate.