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Solution: Tree Planting

Tree Planting:  Establishing and maintaining trees in fields or understocked woodlands.


How it Works

Photo of a small tree.

Tree species are matched to existing soil types, site conditions and the landowner’s objectives. Planting trees on marginal cropland prevents soil erosion, protects water quality, improves wildlife habitat and may provide a break against wind and drifting snow. Increasing the number of trees on a poorly stocked, thin woodlot can increase the woodlot’s productivity and farm income.


  • Make sure the site is suitable for the tree species you want to plant.
  • Consider the potential market and income for the trees compared to using the land for crops or grazing.
  • Plant trees in spring as long as there is adequate moisture and minimal potential for hard frosts. Containerized seedlings can be planted into early summer.
  • When ordering seedlings, make sure you can plant them within 5 days of arrival. Have a cool, shady place to store them and keep the roots moist but not wet.
  • The standard spacing for planting trees ranges from 9-by-9 feet to 5-by-7 feet (approximately 550 to 1,200 trees per acre) depending on species and site conditions. Consult with a local forester for specific recommendations.
  • Some site preparation will be necessary before planting. If the site is covered with sod or brush, prepare the site in late summer or early fall before planting the following spring. A local forester can recommend the treatment suitable to the site and species to be planted.
  • Protect the woodlot from grazing.
  • Consider leaving some fire lanes.


  • Mowing and/or herbicides may be necessary to control competing weeds until the trees are 3 to 4 feet tall.
  • Check periodically for damage from disease, insects or rodents.
  • Review tree survival after the first and third years to determine the need for replanting. If survival is less than 60%, interplanting or replanting may be necessary.
  • Pull fallen leaves and debris off seedlings in fall.

Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!