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Plant and Care for Trees

Description

The right tree in the right place can be a great addition to your home and neighborhood. Trees provide shade, keeping you and your home cool in the summer. They also add beauty and curb appeal, and can raise your home’s resale value while improving air quality and absorbing large amounts of stormwater.

Steps 

  1. Determine where you want to plant your tree.
    Consult city ordinances and the Zoning Code to ensure the site you select meets all necessary requirements and doesn’t endanger any utilities or other infrastructure.
  2. Select the type of tree you would like to plant.
    See the box to the right for lists of trees that generally do well in our climate. You can also consult a horticulture expert at a local nursery for specific guidance on the right tree for you.
  3. Do some research on your tree.
    Different types of trees need different types of soil and nutrients as well as maintenance needs. Identify the best conditions for your tree and make sure the tree won’t interfere with overhead utilities, buildings, or other structures when it reaches maturity.
  4. Plant your tree according to best practices for your species. 
  5. Take care of your tree.
    You will likely need to water it for some time so that the roots can become well established. Seasonal pruning may be needed to ensure the tree develops in a healthy way. It will all depend on the species of tree you select and your planting location.

Proper Planting Location

Always consider the size the tree will reach at maturity when considering where to plant one, but especially when there is a building or overhead utilities nearby. If you want to plant within the Right-of-Way (typically the first 12 feet behind the street curb), you will need to apply for a Right-of-Way clearance permit and a License Agreement from the City of Tulsa.

Call 1-800-522-6543 or 8-1-1, or visit okie811.org to identify any underground utilities while planning on where to plant your new tree.

Trees should be planted away from overhead utilities so when they mature, they don’t interfere with the lines. Make sure the tree is far enough away from your home’s foundation, sidewalks, water supply lines, sewer lines, gas lines, that spreading roots won’t cause damage. When selecting a tree, take its root system into consideration.

Use tools like the iTree Design Tool to help find the best locations for trees at your home and see how large they can become at maturity.

When to Plant

Trees should be planted during the dormant season—in the fall after leaf drop or in early spring before budbreak—when weather conditions are cool and allow plants to establish roots in the new location before rain and heat stimulate new top growth. Healthy balled and burlapped or container trees, can be planted throughout the growing season if given appropriate care.

Selecting a Tree

Choosing the right tree species to plant is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Tree species require different levels of care, locations and soil types, grow at different rates, and can vary dramatically in size. No single tree species is suitable for every site or for all landscaping purposes. The wrong tree in the wrong location can result in clogged sewers, cracked foundations and sidewalks, and even power outages as trees grow into nearby electric lines.

You can find information on tree species you’re interested in at the links in the orange box to the left. The Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder provides ample information about thousands of varieties of plants and trees.

Problematic Trees

Avoid buying the fastest growing or cheapest tree you can find. Fast-growing trees are usually weak-wooded and are easily damaged during storms. These trees are hazardous if near homes or power lines, and they will require repeated pruning. In addition, they are often prone to surface roots and insect and disease problems. Avoid these trees:

Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), Ash, Bradford Pear, Cottonwood, Elderberry, Lombardy Poplar, Mimosa, Russian Olive, Silver Maple, White Mulberry, White Poplar

The Oklahoma Forestry Service sells tree and shrub seedlings that are well-suited to Oklahoma’s climate. They accept orders each October, and seedlings are shipped January-March. For more information, call the State Nursery at 405-288-2385, email frc@oda.state.ok.us, or visit forestry.ok.gov/order-seedlings. 

Planting a Tree

PSO’s Look Before You Leaf guide and the ISA Trees Are Good website are excellent resources for planting and caring for trees.

Proper Pruning

All trees will need pruned, and it’s important that they are pruned correctly. Improper pruning can leave your trees susceptible to disease, rot, pests, weakened branches that break easily, and premature death. It can also be dangerous, as these weakened trees could drop large limbs and branches on your home, or onto the sidewalk or street.

PSO’s Look Before You Leaf guide provides information on how you can correctly prune your own tree, and questions to ask if you need to hire a tree care professional.

Hiring a Tree Trimmer or Arborist

We strongly recommend that you hire arborists with professional certifications from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). Such membership demonstrates a willingness on the part of the arborist to stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and information. Visit treesaregood.org or
tcia.org to search for an arborist. 

A reputable, trained arborist will not perform any work detrimental to a tree’s health, including tree topping (also prohibited by City ordinance) and lion-tailing. These techniques are considered malpractice, because they lead to the deformation of trees, destroying their branch structure and inviting disease, and ultimately leading to the premature death of trees and possible damage and injuries.

Other considerations from PSO’s Look Before You Leaf guide:

  • It’s a good idea to get opinions from at least three tree care companies.
  • Ask about the company’s pruning techniques. If they say they “flush-cut” or suggest “topping” or “hat- racking” your tree, don’t hire them.
  • Make sure the company has liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Call the insurance company to see if the policy is current. If damage occurs to your or your neighbor’s property, or someone is injured, you are responsible if they don’t have insurance.
  • Ask for local references and verify the quality of work.
  • Be wary of anyone going door-to-door offering to do tree work. Most reputable tree companies have plenty of work without knocking on doors.
  • Don’t be rushed by bargains; never hire someone who insists on being paid before the work is complete.

PSO Forestry Program

If you are concerned about trees on your property that are close to overhead utilities, call PSO’s Forestry Infoline at 1-877-367-6815. If needed, they will send a forester to you to determine if trimming or removal is best. If the best option is to remove the tree, PSO often provide vouchers you can use to receive a discount on the purchase of replacement trees and shrubs at participating local nurseries.

Resources 

Okie811
Call 8-1-1 or 1-800-522-6543, or visit okie811.org before digging a hole for your new trees. Utility workers will mark the location of any underground utilities so you know where you can dig safely.

Tree Selection & Planting

Find a Certified Arborist
treesaregood.org/findanarborist
tcia.org

Information for Tree Owners
Learn about choosing and planting the right tree, managing tree hazards and risks, plant health care, planting and pruning trees, and more. treesaregood.org/treeowner

Tulsa’s Urban Forest Master Plan
upwithtrees.org/about-trees/master-plan/

PSO Forestry Infoline
Call 1-877-367-6815

iTree Design Tool
design.itreetools.org

This free web-based tool allows you to find the best locations for trees around your home, estimate canopy growth, and more.

Up With Trees Programs
upwithtrees.org or 918.610.8733

  • Citizen Forester Program — A 4-class training on how to plan, plant, preserve, and promote Tulsa’s urban forest. After completing the class, graduates will be asked to invest 15 hours of volunteer work annually.
  • Tree School (K-12) — A youth education program designed to utilize trees as a cross-curricular learning tool. The goal of the program is to engage students through tree curriculum and hands on tree planting and care based on the needs of the school.
  • Tree Topics Classes — Up With Trees hosts classes every other month on many different tree topics. These classes are open to the general public and are only $10!
  • Tree Walks — April-October, Up With Trees hosts Tree Walks led by a local tree specialist or arborist. Free.
  • Seedling Giveaway — Community donations allow Up With Trees to distribute tree seedlings for free.