Checklist For Planting A Tree

[] With a ruler, measure the diameter and the depth of the rootball.
[] Dig hole 2 1/2 times the diameter of the rootball.
[] Dig hole to the same depth as the rootball. Lay a t-post or shovel handle across the top of the hole to determine ground level. Measure depth of hole by measuring from bottom of hole to bottom of t-post. This measurement should be the same depth as the rootball.
[] Lift tree into planting hole by the rootball, NOT by the trunk.
[] Check to ensure that the top of the rootball is at ground level by laying a t-post or shovel handle across the top of the hole.
[] Use pliers to remove nails from the rootball.
[] Use scissors to remove twine and cut away the top half of the burlap from the rootball. Do not remove the bottom half of the burlap.
[] If a wire basket is present, use wire cutters to cut away the top of the basket but do not remove the bottom half.
[] Refill the hole with the soil that came from digging the hole. Fill to the same level as soil at the base of the trunk in rootball. Do not pile soil against the trunk.
[] Use all remaining soil to build a circular berm 5-6 feet in diameter around the tree. This berm will hold water and mulch.
[] Hammer stakes or t-posts north and south of the tree. Stakes should not touch rootball or branches.
[] For staking, tie a length of nylon strapping to 1 t-post, wrap around the trunk once, then securely tie the strapping to the other t-post. The strapping should be tight enough to limit movement in strong winds but should not make the tree trunk rigid.
[] If nylon strapping is not available, use a 15" piece of garden hose to make a doughnut by running a piece of wire through it. Put the doughnut around tree trunk and secure the ends of the wire to the t-posts.
[] Water gently low to the ground with 10 to 15 gallons of water for 1 1/2 inch caliper trees. Plastic milk jugs and 5 gallon buckets are useful to measure.
[] Put 4 inches of wood chips or other mulching material in the planting circle, leaving 2 inches of space around the tree trunk. Mulch should not touch the trunk.

Watering Schedule for Transplanted Trees

Watering Schedule for Transplanted Trees
(1 1/2" caliper)

Year 1
15 gallons
Year 2
20 gallons
Year 3
20 gallons
Once a week Once a week Once a week
Once every other week Once every other week Once every other week
Once a week Once a week Once a week
Twice a week Twice a week Twice a week

Suggested Trees For Planting in Public Places

Street Trees

15-20 feet
Desert Willow
Amur Maple
Ornamental Pear
Golden Raintree
Caddo Maple
Smoke Tree
Deciduous Holly
20-40 feet
Chinese Pistache
Honey Locust
Kentucky Coffeetree
Fruitless Osage Orange
40-60 feet
Shumard Oak
Water Oak
Lacebark Elm
Cedar Elm
London Plane
Austrian Pine
Japanese Black Pine
Scotch Pine
Arizona Cypress
Eastern Red Cedar
Trees for Parks
Sweet gum
American Planetree
Green Ash
Bur Oak
Fruitless Mulberry
River Birch
English Oak
Leland Cypress
Rocky Mt. Juniper
Loblolly Pine
Native Trees
Black Walnut
Cottonwood (male)
Post Oak
Bur Oak
Caddo Maple

Water, Water, Water: Trees During a Drought

Yes folks, the time has come to look toward spring plantings and watering. Before you flip to the next article, tired and annoyed by this old mantra, please bear with me a few more lines. With very few exceptions, each year in Oklahoma we deal with some type of water deficit from absent spring rains to Augusts when everything not tied down blows away. This year will be no different, but the good news is that we can combat the problems with some useful data, planning, and water, water, water.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are reporting that parts of Oklahoma are as much as eight (8) inches below average on rainfall amounts for the twelve (12) month period. Central Oklahoma is holding around three (3) inches below average. This doesn’t mean we should expect another Dust Bowl by spring, as NOAA labels it a moderate drought. However, the USDA and NOAA go on to predict that the drought will persist or intensify (ie worsen) through March.

The bad news is that we’re short on rainfall, soil water resources near the surface are practically exhausted, subsoils are dry, and trees have been struggling for a few months. However, we can combat this problem by watering all evergreens starting now, just a few gallons a week. Once planting begins in late spring, we’ll need to step up watering to approximately ten (10) gallons per week for all established trees and shrubs. Newly planted trees will need extra watering-in when they’re planted to ensure good soil/root connections, and the new trees will need five to ten (5-10) gallons per week after planting. When can we stop watering? The easy answer in Oklahoma is never. The practical answer is that if we have a very wet spring that exceeds normal rainfall totals to make up the amount we’re short, we can slow down watering until July when the next rain deficit is likely to start.

Is there any good news? Yes, there is: the USDA and NOAA are not predicting the drought to worsen past March. The long range predictions can’t tell us for certain if we’ll completely come out of the drought during the spring, but they’re fairly confident it won’t get worse. And when we’re talking water, trees and Oklahoma, that’s pretty good news. Water, water, water!

Replanting After Pine Wilt

After the removals and clean-up from pine wilt’s damage, there are excellent opportunities to continue beautifying your park, school, yard or library: Replant! Below is a list of replacement trees, suitable for Oklahoma, as well as some important characteristics of each.


  • Shortleaf pine – native to eastern Oklahoma , hardy, moderately dense crown, available in limited supplies from nurseries
  • Loblolly pine – native to eastern Oklahoma, avoid planting in high clay soils, open crown, easily found in nurseries
  • Ponderosa pine – native to western US, it has transplanted well in Oklahoma, moderately dense crown, available in limited supplies from nurseries

Note: The listed pines have a different growth pattern from Austrian and Scots pine. Shortleaf, loblolly and ponderosa pines do not keep their branches to the ground; they have a more “open” appearance than the dense growth of Austrian and Scots pines.

Other evergreens

  • Junipers, improved varieties – native to Oklahoma, aesthetic varieties of eastern red cedar, hardy in almost all soils and locations, drought tolerant, don’t spread indiscriminately, many varieties and cultivars available from nurseries
  • Arborvitae – successful introduction to Oklahoma, prefers soils without high clay content, dense branching and foliage, should not be planted near trees or shrubs with seridium canker, available from most nurseries

Additional information and photos of each tree are available through Oklahoma State University at

Oklahoma boulevards are hallmarked by large, old American elm trees. Their stately presence has shaded streets and watched Oklahoma progress from frontier to modern society. As we all know, however, Dutch elm disease has decimated the American elm population throughout Oklahoma, forever changing our landscape.

New American elm cultivars are available that may hold the key to rebuilding our urban forest. Dutch elm disease-resistant American elms recently on the market include ‘New Harmony,’ ‘Valley Forge’, and ‘Princeton.’ With slight variations in form, ‘New Harmony’ and ‘Valley Forge’ being vase-shaped trees while ‘Princeton’ has a more upright form, there is a new cultivar to fit practically any landscaping plan. Two beautiful specimens of the fast growing ‘Princeton’ can be seen at Oklahoma City University’s Native Tree Arboretum, a project gifted to the university by the Tree Bank Foundation. Try one of these American elm cultivars in your next landscaping project, and you’ll see why they are Oklahoma Proven!