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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Celebrate Arbor Month, Plant a Tree

LAS CRUCES - New Mexicans who plant trees for Arbor month need to be careful in choosing and planting their selections, said a New Mexico State University forest entomologist.

"Remember, insects and disease pests are rarely a problem on healthy, vigorous trees," said Bob Cain with NMSUIs Cooperative Extension Service.

Cain suggested the following tips to get trees off to a healthy start:

* Buy healthy nursery stock and select a species that is cold hardy for your area.

* Plant on a site large enough to support the tree at maturity.

* Dig the planting hole as deep as the height of the root ball and at least three times the diameter. Break up the soil and rough up the edges of the hole.

Lift the tree by the root ball, not the trunk, and center it upright in the hole. If containerized, remove or cut away the container. Examine the roots of container-grown trees carefully. Prune off dead and crushed roots with clean cuts and straighten circling roots that have begun to grow around the edges of the container.

* Cut and remove any chicken wire and/or burlap wrapped around the root ball.

* Water as you replace the soil in the hole and gently stamp the soil to firmly set the tree.

* Remove any tree wrap, price tags, labels or string on the trunk.

* Mulch lightly to at least the diameter of the crown to discourage weed growth and to conserve moisture. Keep grass away from the trunk to protect it from lawn mowers and string trimmers.

* Most trees planted will not require staking. Taller trees planted in windy, open areas may need to be staked until the roots have time to grow into the surrounding soil. Stake trees using wide belts like strapping that will not dig into the tree's bark. The tree should still be able to sway and move with the wind to allow it to develop a strong trunk.

New Mexico officially celebrated Arbor Day on March 10, but due to the diversity of the climate within the state, the legislature passed a memorial in 1991 declaring the entire month of March as Arbor month.

Each year, the state forestry tree seedling program sells seedlings at cost to landowners wanting to plant trees for conservation or educational purposes.