Help Build San Diego’s Urban Forest By Planting Your Native or Climate-Appropriate Sapling at Home!

We’ve partnered with SDG&E to create this hybrid Plant It Forward series on San Diego’s Urban Forest. Check out the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to plant and care for your own native or climate-appropriate sapling.

1. Find the perfect spot for your tree

Select an area outside so that your sapling will get at least 6 hours of sunlight. Saplings should be started in a pot to allow them to develop a larger root mass, so select a pot that will give your tree room to grow (about 3 or 4 times the size of the original container).

2. Make sure the soil is moist

When you are planting, make sure that the soil in the pot is moist. Also, make sure that you water the sapling before you take it out of its original container. This will help the plant to not go into transplant shock.

3. Dig a hole just the right size

When measuring the planting hole be sure that the hole is deep enough so that roots will not be exposed, but not too deep where the sapling will drown. Simply observe where the root ball stops and the plant stem/trunk starts. Then make sure that part of the sapling is at soil level or slightly above the soil level. After digging the hole, if the soil is not already moist you can fill the hole with water and let the water drain.

4. Transplant your sapling

Before taking the plant out of the container make sure to water it first. To take the sapling out of its pot, gently squeeze the sides so that it smoothly comes out of its original container.

5. Don’t forget to loosen the roots

Often, folks place their sapling into the planting hole without loosening the roots. This step is important so that the tree’s roots will grow outward instead of wrapping around the root ball.

6. Plant your sapling

Place the sapling in the planting hole so that it’s not too deep nor too high. Use the soil that you removed earlier to firmly pat the soil around the plant down so there are no air pockets.

7. Use water

Once you’re done planting the sapling, make sure you give the plant water. Place the pot in an area where it will get at least 6 hours of sunlight. Make sure to water it regularly but allow the soil to go nearly dry between each watering.

8. Let it grow and transplant it again

Once the sapling has had the chance to grow and develop a larger root ball it should be moved from the pot and into the ground. Follow the same steps outlined above, scaling up to account for the larger size of the tree.

 

For specific care instructions for the species you selected, visit these helpful links: