Teach children how to plant a tree

Teach children how to plant a tree

This is the perfect time of year for tree planting. Make it a family affair by inviting your kids to join in on the fun. Tree planting is a family-friendly activity and it can be particularly gratifying to watch a tree mature as your very own child matures into adulthood. 

The first step is to get your kid excited in the tree-planting process. This is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your son or daughter, but also to teach him or her about responsibility and the importance of caring for the environment.

If possible, begin by letting your child decide what type of tree to plant. Give him or her a few different options and explain to your child how each tree is different. Allowing your child to make the selection will make him or her more eager to be a part of the tree-planting process.

Depending on the age of your child, you may want to print out handouts or illustrations that will help him or her better understand tree planting. This guide is a good start. It will help your child focus on the task at hand. You can use the guide as a prompt to talk your child through next steps in tree planting. Ask questions, such as what step comes next, to keep them engaged. This will help your child take on an active role in the planting of the tree so that they are truly invested.

Once you’ve prepped and planned, it’s time to get to work. Kids usually like to get their hands a little dirty so they should thoroughly enjoy the tree-planting activity. Depending on your child’s age, you can allow your child to dig the hole with a colorful toy shovel or with actual gardening tools. Begin by digging a hole deep enough to cover the tree’s rootball and about twice as wide. Then have your child remove the rootball from the container and place the tree in the hole. Remember to actively engage your child in the process and provide encouragement along the way.

Now comes the really fun part. Once the tree is in the ground, you will want to fill the hole with soil and pack it around the tree. Let your child know it’s ok to get dirty. Kids have a great time playing in the dirt and will probably be eager to help. Allow your child to let loose. After the soil is packed around the tree by hand, stand up and pat it down with your feet. Be silly and have some fun with it. Pack any remaining soil around the base of the tree to hold in moisture. Then, grab a hose and water the tree thoroughly. Let your child take a turn with the hose and maybe splash around a bit if it’s a hot day.

Once the hard work of planting the tree is over, allow your child to celebrate his or her accomplishment. There are a few ways you can reward your child for a job well done and encourage him or her to take part in caring for the tree in the future.

First, consider having your child name the tree. Giving the tree a name will personalize it for him or her. Explain to your child that, like a pet, a tree needs loving care and attention. Consider writing the tree’s name on a badge or ribbon and tying it to the tree. This will give your child ownership of the tree and serve as a reminder that the tree will need to be looked at on a consistent schedule.

We have this step-by-step guide to planting your own tree.

1. Dig a hole that is deeper than the seedling pot.

2. Remove the plant gently from its container, be careful not to tear the leaves or roots. (If it’s hard to remove, try inverting the pot keeping your fingers securely around the base of the plant, and gently squeezing the sides or tapping the bottom of the pot).1. Dig a hole that is deeper than the seedling pot.

3. Place the plant gently in the hole.

4. Fill around the plant with soil without leaving any air gaps.

5. Make sure the root system is not above the soil surface – try to have the plant sitting in a slight depression or well so that it will attract and retain water.

6. Make sure the plant is standing straight.

7. Press the soil down firmly to remove air pockets and add plenty of mulch around the base to reduce water loss and weed invasion.

8. If using plastic sleeve tree guards use 3 stakes – place 2 on either side of the plant, place the sleeve over these and use the third stake to make sure you have a nice tight triangle.

9. Water the seedlings.

Once the tree is planted and named, you can even give your child a certificate of ownership. There are lots of online resources that can be printed and completed. You can design a badge of honor for your child to sport with pride. You can also print out a tree-caretaker certificate. Write the date that the tree was planted and the next steps for its care and maintenance. These can be homemade and customized so that they’re age-appropriate for your child.

Remind your child that though the initial work is done, the process of caring for the tree is far from over. For instance, the tree will need to be watered on a weekly basis and every couple of years or so, soil and nutrients should be added to the tree to ensure it remains healthy. You can even write down some reminders on the certificate so that your child will continue to be involved and invested in the tree’s caring and nurturing.

Remember Trees need love! Return to the site in the weeks and months after you’ve planted your seedling to carry out any necessary maintenance.

Over time, your tree will also need pruning, trimming, and shaping. Depending on the age of your child, he or she may want to take these tasks on themselves as they grow older and take on more responsibility.

Congratulate your child on planting the roots of a soon-to-be-thriving tree.
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