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Submitted by Becki deNeui-Lynch, Master Gardener

For the next couple of articles, the emphasis will be on canopy (above 30’) and understory (less than 30’) trees that will bring diversity to your property and improve the habitat for pollinators and wildlife.  Here are the basics about planting trees in Iowa:

  1. How many should be planted? A ¼ to ½ acre property can support 10 – 15 trees/shrubs for a healthy environment. Factor up for larger properties.  1 acre of healthy forest has between 40 – 60 trees.
  2. Best time to plant – Sept./Oct. and April/May – If you have major tree/soil damage, an aeration this Fall will address compacted soil problems from clean up.  Plan through winter and plant next Spring.
  3. Bigger is better? NO – Research has shown that trees planted from quart size pots (between 1 ½ – 3 ft in height) had less transplant shock, grew more quickly, and caught up with trees in larger pots within 3 years (Colorado State Univ).  How about planting some faster growing trees? See below:
  4. Diversity, Diversity, Diversity – Have at least 4-5 different types of canopy and understory trees for a greater diversity of pollinators and butterflies.
  5. Planting – Follow the instructions closely, not just about how deep and the size of the hole, but where – not all trees are the same regarding soil/light/moisture.

Pollinator Canopy Trees – Fast Growing – Pollinator facts from Douglas W. Tallamy

Check these out as replacement canopy trees, and further options that come highly recommended by the Iowa DNR can be found at this CBS2 article.

Next:  Understory Trees – the Spring Nectar Punch