So you want to plant a tree?

April 30, 2017 GMT

Board volunteer gives tips on staying safe and environmentally friendly

To prepare for Arbor Day on Friday, Mary Shimmin spent last week visiting North Platte elementary schools where she gave students trees on behalf of the Tree Board.

Shimmin, a longtime volunteer with the board, also distributed a handout on how to plant trees. However, parents often still have questions, she said.

Here are some of her tips:

» Consider the tree, the environment

Part of Nebraska’s early push to plant trees was to fill an empty prairie. Trees provide shelter for animals like birds and squirrels. They also provide a wind block, for people or, in groves, for livestock in winter storms. Trees can also provide fruit, both for people and other inhabitants.

But knowing the area where you’re planting the tree is important, too. Shimmin warned not to plant a tall tree under a power line or less than 25 feet from a house.


A large deciduous tree — the kind that loses its leaves in the fall — on the west, southwest or southeast part of a property will lose leaves and not block the winter sun, but will also provide shade in the summer.

Coniferous trees — those that keep their needles — will provide excellent wind breaks, while trees that don’t grow to be as tall aren’t a danger to power lines or buildings.

» Call before digging

Planting a tree means digging a hole. The hole should be two to three times wider than its root ball, according to, but only as deep as the root ball itself.

However, Shimmin reminded students to call 811 two to three days before digging. This lets utility companies know where you want to dig and why. Any affected utility company can then come mark the spot of any underground utility lines, according to

» Keep the trees coming

While other factors, such as which trees adjust to changing weather patterns, are important, you can find the perfect tree by entering your zipcode at

Shimmin warned students of the Emerald Ash Borer, which hopped on a freight ship from China, and is expected to destroy 44 million trees.

Shimmin said North Platte has been named a Tree City USA town for many years, including in 2017, purely for the city’s planting of trees.

If planting trees was ever important, it is now.