Build a Tree
I drove through town today and noticed that many of the early blooming trees are
actually blooming. Maybe a bit early but not that bad. I saw several white blooming Bradford
Pear trees and a couple of the pink blossoms on some purple leafed plum trees which are usually
the first to bloom here in our high desert country. I know people are seeing these beautiful trees
and are going to the plant nurseries asking for them. But do they really think about what they
are doing before they buy and then plant their new trees?
Many people look at growing a tree as they would raising a child or caring for a pet. They think
they have to sweet talk the tree, play music for it, pet it and give it special TLC. For some people
this might be the proper approach for growing trees and plants, but not for us builders.
Don't just plant that new tree or shrub. Build it. Many people seem to be afraid of the idea of
growing or raising a plant. I worked in a plant nursery for many years, hearing so many people
complain that they couldn't grow anything. I heard comments saying they didn't know why they
were buying a tree as it probably wouldn't grow. I would tell them, “Have confidence in yourself
and build that tree.”
The dictionary defines 'grow' as 'start to increase in size, develop, to reach maturity, to
expand'. The dictionary defines 'raise' as 'to cause to move upward, to make greater in size, to
To Build! To develop or expand. Maybe we should stop thinking of growing or raising plants,
but of building plants.
The same people who say they can't raise or grow plants, frequently, are builders. These are
people who are architects, and engineers, people who build homes, offices, and bridges. Or
they are mechanics, who build or repair cars and trucks. They can be carpenters, who build or
make furniture, and they may be electricians who build or develop computers. We even 'build' our
children, or we hope we are building them into good people.
I can grow a tree, but I would be lost trying to build a computer, as many computer people would
be growing a tree. All of us can do one thing better than another, but we can all try to build something.
Trees are really easy to 'build' if you will just give yourself and the tree a chance. We build lots of
things, including trees, shrubs, vegetables, and houseplants as well as those computers, and homes.
So the next time you start to plant that new tree, think of it as a building project.
First you excavate a hole. You want it twice as wide and twice as deep as the pot the tree is in. You
build a proper foundation by adding several good shovel fulls of peat moss and compost to the soil
you dug out of your hole. Mix it all well and put a couple of shovel fulls back into the hole. Now pull
the tree out of the pot and put it in the hole. (Yes, I have heard of people who didn't take the tree out
of the pot before planting it. No, it will not grow that way.) Now use your water hose to fill the hole
with water all around the tree. As the water soaks in add the rest of the soil mixture to the hole around
all sides of the tree, tamping it down some as you layer it in. You can compare this project to baking
a cake – a baker builds a cake by adding the right ingredients together to make a cake. Instead of milk,
butter, eggs, sugar, and flour you are mixing water, peat moss, compost, maybe some light fertilizer
like root stimulator. Remember don't give it very much fertilizer or you will burn the tree and it won't
grow or build right, if at all. You wouldn't want to put to much sugar or oil into your cake, would you?
Water the tree again after you have all the soil mix in the hole. You will want to water it well every day
for the first couple weeks and then every other day for another couple of weeks working down to about
every three days for the summer or more often if it is really hot and especially if you see the tree looking
droopy. Now you don't want it standing in water but keep it damp for the first summer. The next summer
you shouldn't need to water it near as much.
I recommend adding a stake to your tree so that it can be helped to support its self when the wind
blows or someone accidentally pushes against it. Make sure the stake is not tied to tight to the little tree. If
the ties are to tight they can cut into the truck of the tree causing it to not breathe right. Yes, your tree
breathes. It breathes in carbon dioxide and breaths out oxygen. The same kind of oxygen you breath. So
not only will your tree look pretty as it grows it will help you breathe. You in turn will help it to breathe.
All plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.
Remember, this isn't one of those quick, one day projects, like painting a room, or even a project that
takes a couple of months like building a house. It is an expanding, on-going, never-ending project similar
to raising a child. Over the years the tree will grow, expand, and mature because you will add the re-
quired amounts of water, fertilize, and mulch, as well as the occasional repair or removal of a branch that
forms wrong or doesn't look good. Your tree will require cleaning and repair just as your home does, or
your car or computer. But it will give back so much. Not only will it give you oxygen but it will give you
pretty blossoms to look at in the spring, leaves for shade in the summer and colorful fall leaves. Or if you
are planting an evergreen tree like a pine or spruce it will be green all year for you.
Next time your looking for a new project, give it a try. Build a Tree.