The Dummies Guide to Tree Planting in the Bay Area

Planting and nourishing healthy trees is about more than digging a hole in the ground and dropping in a sapling. Still, it doesn’t have to be complicated. A little research and work on the back-end can help you figure how to plant a tree and when to plant a tree on your Bay Area property an almost painless process – even for those lacking any sort of green thumb.

First: Pick Your Space!

You’ll need to take a few things into consideration as you pick the space to plant a tree. If you’re in an urban area, look into what regulations and ordinances apply to your project. In the city of San Francisco, for example, you must apply for a planting permit with the Department of Public Works if you want to plant a tree near a public street.

In addition to considering the aesthetics of your location, think about putting a safe distance between your tree and sidewalks, driveways, other trees, and – maybe most importantly – utility lines. PG&E’s Right Tree Right Place provides more detailed information on utility line issues, including the special considerations that need to be taken if you plant palms.

Next: Choose a Bay Area-Friendly Tree Species!

Once you’ve picked your space – or narrowed a couple of options – select the species of tree to plant. Always consider native and drought-resistant options first, and think about the species’ sun and soil requirements and how they stand up to wind. Think the tree’s size and shape when it’s mature, as most trees (other than palms) will continue to grown beneath and above ground, well after planting.

Browse some local nurseries to see what catches your eye, and take advantage of free online resources like the CalPoly Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute’s SelecTree guide and the Arbor Day Foundation guide.

Finally: Plant Your Sapling!

After you’ve done the research and purchased your tree sapling, gather some basic tools – a shovel, tape measure, and hose will usually do the trick – and someone to help. Mark the spot you’ll dig, making sure you dig it two to three times bigger than the root ball, and position the sapling – making sure to loosen all that soil packed around its roots. Fill the soil back in, leaving the root flare just above ground, and top it off with fertilizer and mulch.

Of course, you can’t forget one of the most important post-planting jobs – ensuring that your sapling is properly irrigated, particularly for the first several weeks.

You’ll be on your way to increased beauty, shade, property value, and of course, a more oxygen-rich environment.

We hope you have learned how to plant a tree, and when to plant a tree, here in our beautiful Bay Area.