Nature News: Tree Planting 101

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By Caroline, LHS Junior

Lyndon High School’s Junior English class has recently been reading poems and essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aldo Leopold and Henry David Thoreau. To admire some of the beauty discussed in these poems first hand, the juniors visited the new nature trail in Lyndon. There, they met Brad Loveless, a member of Westar Energy’s Green Team, who has played a big role in the creation of the nature trail. He gave the students a step by step demonstration on how to plant a healthy white oak tree in Kansas.

First, Mr. Loveless gave the juniors advice on how to pick the perfect tree. He advised the students to pick a tree with healthy leaves, trunks and roots, avoiding trees with brown crumbling leaves and abrasions on their trunks. Also, he suggested choosing trees that are native to Kansas, like the red maple, the white oak, and the American elm. These native trees will be hardier and will most likely live longer.

110913-nature-treeThe next step in the tree planting process was finding the perfect spot for the tree. Depending on the purpose of the tree, different spots should be chosen. A tree for shade should be planted where the shade is desired. A tree for animal habitat should be planted where the animal has been sighted or is most wanted. For decoration, a tree should be planted in a place for all to admire. The tree planted by Mr. Loveless and the junior class was mainly for decoration, so they picked a spot and began digging.

Mr. Loveless enlightened the students on the correct way to dig a hole for a tree. The hole for a tree should be about three times the diameter of the tree’s container. This large hole allows roots to spread. The hole should be no deeper than the soil in which they were originally grown. Avoid areas with hard, clay-like soil. This soil is hard for tree roots to break through and can eventually cause the tree to die.

Next, Mr. Loveless removed the tree from its plastic container and began breaking apart the roots that had wrapped around the soil due to the restriction of the plastic container it was planted in. He explained that if he did not break the roots apart, they would keep growing around the tree, not outward. The tree would never grow and eventually would die. Mr. Loveless then gave the students the “thumbs up” to put the tree into the hole.

Once the tree was in the hole, Mr. Loveless suggested the students fill it with the richest top soil around. After the hole was filled, the students spread a three inch layer of mulch on top of the loosened soil. They did this to help the tree weather many different conditions. It also keeps the area free from weeds trying to invade the tree’s growing space. Next, the class hammered a stake into the ground next to the tree for support. The stake should support the tree, but still allow it to move in the wind. The class finished the project by pouring water over the mulch to rid the soil of air pockets.

The Lyndon school district plans to plant even more trees on the nature trail in the future. A possible tree planting project for the nature trail is to plant the state tree from all 50 states. This plan may be difficult though for state trees from Hawaii and Alaska, which require different conditions than needed for Kansas trees. Another idea is to bring out all Lyndon elementary school classes and have each class plant a different tree. Although it is not set in stone which planting project will be executed, it is safe to say that the tree planted by the Junior English class will not be the last tree planted on the nature trail.


Nature News is a project of the Lyndon High School English III class taught by Heather Fuller, who teaches English, drama and forensics. Along with the study of the works of famous authors, the junior students are learning about community-based writing. Coursework includes writing about subjects that will benefit readers. In Nature News, they plan to report on topics about appreciation of nature, using nearby Jones Park Trail as a learning tool.

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