The Complete Guide to Planting a Tree in Your Calgary Yard

Reading time: 6 minutes

Have you ever thought of making your yard a bit greener and your air a tad fresher? Planting a tree in your yard is a brilliant move for the environment and your living space. Not only does it spruce up your property's appearance, but it also plays a crucial role in cleaning the air and contributing positively to the environment.

Plus, who doesn't love a bit of natural shade during those sunny Calgary afternoons? It's a simple step with lasting benefits for your home and the planet.

Green Plant Plastic Bag
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Calgary’s Unique Climate and Soil Conditions

Calgary’s unique climate and soil are critical to your tree-planting success. Nestled in Zone 4a, Calgary presents a chilly challenge for most of our tree friends.

Now, while some trees might shiver at the thought, others thrive in this cool embrace. The correct selection is vital. You want a tree that not only survives but thrives in these conditions.

As for Calgary’s soil… it's as diverse as the cityscape, ranging from clay-heavy plots to sandy stretches. This diversity profoundly influences which trees will stand tall and which might falter.

So, before you plant a tree in Calgary, getting the dirt on your soil type is essential.

Yard Tree
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Selecting the Right Tree for your Calgary Yard

There are certain key considerations you need to keep in mind before you select a tree.

  • Mature size and growth habits. Anticipate the full size of the tree to avoid future issues with power lines or structures. Trees like the majestic Bur Oak grow large and provide expansive shade, while columnar aspens offer beauty without taking up much space.
  • Growth rate. Fast-growing species like the Hybrid Poplar can provide privacy, but their lifespan and maintenance needs must be considered. Slower growers, such as the Oak, offer longevity and sturdiness.
  • Purpose and function. Whether you're seeking a vibrant autumn display, spring blossoms, or a sturdy windbreak, your tree's purpose will guide your selection. Crabapples bring spring flowers and colourful fruit, while Spruce trees offer year-round greenery and shelter for wildlife.

Below are some tree picks for Calgary:

  • Shade trees. The Green Ash and Amur Maple are resilient choices that adapt well to Calgary's soil and climate, offering generous shade in summer months.
  • Ornamental trees. For a touch of elegance, the Showy Mountain Ash or the Japanese Tree Lilac provide stunning floral displays and can fit into smaller spaces.
  • Fruit trees. Hardy varieties like the 'Goodland' apple or 'Pembina' plum are well-adapted to Calgary's cooler climate and offer delicious rewards for your care.
  • Native species. Native species such as the Trembling Aspen or Balsam Poplar can enhance your garden's local ecosystem, supporting biodiversity and offering a habitat for wildlife. These species naturally adapt to Calgary's environment, requiring less water and maintenance once established.

Pre-planning for Your Trees

Before your tree finds its forever home in your yard, some foresight and preparation can ensure a lasting future.

Planning with the Future in Mind

It’s all about envisioning the whole lifespan of your tree. Consider how tall it will grow and how wide its branches and roots will spread. This isn’t just about giving your tree room to grow; it’s about preventing future conflicts with structures, sidewalks, and other plants.

Timing for Optimal Growth

The best times to plant in Calgary are during the gentler seasons of spring and fall. These periods offer the ideal conditions for trees to establish roots without the added stress of summer heat or winter chill. Aiming for a day when the weather is mild and the sky is overcast can also provide a perfect setting for planting.

Handling Your Tree with Care

From the moment you pick up your tree, keeping its roots moist and protected is crucial. If planting can’t happen immediately, store your tree in a cool, shaded area. The roots should remain damp but not waterlogged to prevent damage before planting.

Step-by-Step Guide to Planting a Tree

Step 1: Preparing the Site

Choosing the right spot is crucial. You’ll want a place that gets enough sunlight, has plenty of growth space, and is safe from buildings and utilities.

Assess the area for daily sunlight exposure. Most trees thrive in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

The hole you dig should be about two to three times wider than the root ball but no deeper. The aim is to give the roots room to spread without suffocating them. Ensure the root collar (where the roots meet the trunk) is level with or slightly above the ground to prevent waterlogging.

Man Digging
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Step 2: Planting Your Tree

Whether containerized or burlapped, the planting approach varies slightly, but the goal is the same: a secure and healthy tree.

For containerized trees, first gently remove the tree from its pot. Loosen the roots to encourage them to spread into the surrounding soil.

In the case of burlapped trees, place the tree in the hole with its burlap and wire basket intact. Next, carefully remove them without disturbing the root ball too much.

In both cases, make sure the tree stands straight and the root collar remains properly positioned.

Plastic Bag Plant
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Step 3: Securing and Supporting the Tree

The following steps include correctly filling the hole and ensuring the tree is stable. Use the excavated soil to fill the hole around the tree, packing lightly to eliminate air pockets. Water generously to settle the soil, then finish filling.

Staking is not always necessary, but it can provide support for taller trees or those in windy areas. If you decide to use a stake, make sure it’s not too tight and remove it after a year to allow the tree to strengthen on its own.

Tree Care Tips to Maintain Healthy Growth

To ensure your tree lives on and continues to grow, you want to make sure you care for it properly. Here are some tree care tips to remember:

  • Mulch away: Apply a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch around your tree, avoiding direct contact with the trunk, to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and enrich soil.
  • Watering: Provide about an inch of water weekly, adjusting for rainfall and temperature. Opt for deep, less frequent watering to encourage root growth.
  • Staking: Only stake young trees, if necessary, providing support without hindering movement to strengthen the trunk.
  • Pruning: Remove dead or diseased branches and shape the tree during the dormant season to improve health and aesthetics.
  • Fertilizing: Test soil first and fertilize sparingly, if at all, to address specific nutrient deficiencies without overfeeding.

Identifying and Addressing Common Issues

Regularly inspect your tree for signs of pests or disease, such as unusual leaf discoloration, holes, or wilting. Early detection is crucial. Consult with our certified arborists for the best treatment options.

Trees can also show stress from too much or too little water, extreme temperatures, or poor soil conditions. You will see signs of leaf scorch, premature leaf drop, or stunted growth. Adjust your water and mulch to mitigate these issues.

Here are some seasonal issues and tips for handling them:

  • Spring. Inspect your tree for winter damage and prune as necessary. It’s also a great time to mulch and start a regular watering schedule as the weather warms up.
  • Summer. Continue watering, especially during hot, dry periods. Keep an eye out for pest infestations and diseases, which are more common at this time.
  • Fall. Prepare your tree for winter by giving it a deep watering before the freeze. This is also an excellent time to apply a fresh layer of mulch.
  • Winter. While there’s less to do, protect young trees from extreme cold and wildlife with tree guards.
Green Drop Street Planting

Start Your Green Legacy by Planting with our Arborists

Selecting, planting, and nurturing a tree in your Calgary home is an investment in the future. You’re building your green legacy that extends far beyond your own backyard.

But remember, you're not in this alone. Whether you're choosing the perfect tree for your space or troubleshooting a tricky issue, Green Drop is here to help. Our team of certified arborists is here to support you in every step of your tree planting journey.

Ready to get started?

Book your service at any of our locations in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Regina, Saskatoon, or Winnipeg.

Let's grow a greener tomorrow together.

Schedule Your Free Tree Care Assessment