Forest Landowners Guide to Tree Planting Success

Planting trees is visionary

Imagine transforming a once vacant pasture into a thriving forest or converting agricultural land into a diverse woodland. Picture a forest that boasts resistance to insects, fire, and disease, while providing improved wildlife habitat, high-quality timber, and enhanced water quality. Tree planting has numerous benefits, including the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. At Tips Tree Planting, we understand the importance of planting trees with purpose and following proper guidelines to ensure success.

Determining Planting Objectives

Before embarking on a tree planting project, it is crucial to determine your objectives. Are you looking to improve wildlife habitat, produce future timber, provide privacy, or restore a woodland? By understanding your goals, you can select appropriate tree species and ensure the success of your project. Need help determining your objectives? Check out our handy guide on our website, Tips Tree Planting.

Assessing the Planting Site

Not all tree species are suited to every site, so it’s important to assess your planting site before making any decisions. Factors such as soil type, sunlight availability, and existing plant competition can influence species selection. Consider the natural conditions of your site and choose tree species that can thrive in those conditions. Our website provides detailed information on site assessment and species selection, so be sure to visit Tips Tree Planting for more guidance.

Selecting Tree Species

The success of your planting project greatly depends on selecting the right tree species for your site. We recommend choosing a diversity of native species that are adapted to your specific conditions and have no major pest problems. Avoid using exotic species, as they can become invasive and harm native ecosystems. Seeking advice from a knowledgeable natural resource professional or forester is highly recommended when making your selection.

Planting Density and Arrangement

Determining the appropriate spacing between trees and the arrangement of tree species is critical for a successful planting. The spacing will depend on your objectives, whether it’s quality hardwood production or wildlife use. Consider the crown width of each tree at maturity and allocate enough space to prevent overcrowding. For specific calculations on the number of trees per acre, refer to our website for a helpful guide.

Ordering Seedlings

Once you have analyzed your planting site and selected your tree species, it’s time to order seedlings. We recommend ordering trees in the fall or winter for spring delivery. It is best to choose seedlings grown from locally collected seeds as they are better adapted to your soil and weather conditions. Various sources, such as state forestry and wildlife agency nurseries, county conservation districts, and private nurseries, offer tree seedlings. Remember to avoid ordering seedlings from nurseries located more than 100 miles south and west of your location.

Preparing the Site

Proper site preparation is crucial for planting success, especially when it comes to controlling weeds, grasses, and invasive plants. Controlling vegetation before planting will create an ideal environment for the young seedlings to thrive. Site preparation may involve mechanical or chemical treatments, or a combination of both. The timing of site preparation is essential, so plan ahead and consult our website for detailed recommendations.

Seedling Care and Handling

Taking care of your seedlings is essential to ensure their survival and growth. It is recommended to plant seedlings as soon as possible after receiving them, preferably within 24 hours. Store them in a cool, damp environment, and keep the roots moist. Be gentle when transporting seedlings and protect them from wind and direct sunlight. Plant the seedlings at the appropriate depth and follow our step-by-step guide on our website for proper planting techniques.

When to Plant

In Pennsylvania, the best time to plant is between early March and early May. Planting while the seedlings are dormant, after the ground has thawed, and before bud break is essential for their establishment. Aim to plant as early in the spring as possible to take advantage of high soil moisture and cool temperatures. This will promote healthy root development before the onset of hotter, drier conditions. Delaying planting until after mid-May may result in seedling mortality due to summer heat and water stress.


Protecting your seedlings from harsh weather, animal predation, and competition is crucial for their survival. Using tree shelters, also known as tree protectors or tree tubes, provides increased protection from deer and rodents, improves growing conditions, and simplifies maintenance tasks. Tree shelters are designed for hardwood seedlings and are available in various sizes. If deer browsing is a significant concern, consider using woven-wire fences to protect your seedlings. For detailed information on protection measures, visit our website.

Postplanting Maintenance

Planting the seedlings is just the beginning of your tree planting journey. Regular inspections and maintenance are necessary in the first few years to address any issues and ensure the seedlings are thriving. This includes controlling weed competition, repairing or replacing damaged protectors and stakes, and pruning to maintain proper tree form. Regular inspections should be conducted to monitor tree health and identify any replacements needed. For in-depth guidance on postplanting maintenance, refer to our comprehensive resources on our website.


Planting trees is a rewarding and impactful endeavor. Following proper guidelines and understanding your objectives are key to ensuring the success of your planting project. At Tips Tree Planting, we are dedicated to providing you with the knowledge, resources, and guidance you need to transform your land into a thriving forest. For more information and expert advice, visit our website Tips Tree Planting. Let’s make your tree planting dreams a reality!