Planting Trees

This page includes information and links about planting trees in Minnesota woodlands.

Update: April 2013. We’ve added a link to a new video showing proper planting technique for container-grown and bareroot seedlings to the General Tree Planting Guidelines section below.


Good planning is essential. Talk to a local professional forester about species selection, spacing, season and method of regeneration, equipment and contracting options, and other considerations.

Flickr photo by Tim Redpath. Click for original.

Planning for regeneration should begin well before harvesting the site. Thinking ahead may create opportunities for natural regeneration, which can be less costly and every bit as effective planting trees.

Planting stock

Planting seedlings, either bare-root or container-grown stock, is the most reliable way to regenerate a stand, especially for conifers. Bare-root seedlings are the most common. They frequently are designated as 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 stock, with the first number referring to how many years they were grown in the original nursery seedbed and the second to how many years they were grown in a transplant bed.

Transplants (seedlings that spent a year in a transplant bed) generally have a larger root system and stem diameter than seedlings that were not transplanted. Transplants are recommended for regenerating slow-growing conifer species such as spruce and fir, and for harsh planting sites where survival is likely to be a problem.

Seedling costs vary by tree age, species, and quantity ordered. Transplants survive very well, but are expensive and therefore are not widely used. One- or two-year-old seedlings are less expensive than transplants and are recommended for most hardwood and conifer plantings.

Two kinds of seedlings can be purchased: Bare root and container-grown.

Bare root seedlings are grown in open air nursery beds. When removed for planting, they are bundled without soil.

Container-grown seedlings usually are grown in a greenhouse in containers between 1 and 2 inches in diameter. Some biodegradable containers may be planted in the ground with the seedling in them. Others must be removed from the seedling before it is planted. Container-grown stock can be very useful for dry planting sites or for planting late in the growing season.

Cuttings are another alternative for artificially regenerating certain tree species. These usually are 8- to 12-inch lengths of tree stems about 1/4- to 3/4-inch in diameter (longer cuttings may be used on drier sites). They are cut during the dormant season from the previous year’s growth of vigorous seedlings or stump sprouts. Cuttings usually have no visible roots, but when buried vertically with just an inch of the stem protruding above ground, they will form roots. Rooted cuttings also may be available for purchase.

Cuttings produce an exact genetic replica of the parent tree. They commonly are used to regenerate poplars, but also can be used to regenerate willow and green ash. Cuttings grow best where the soil remains moist throughout the growing season.

Fruit (seed) ready for direct seeding. Photo by Brian Lockhart, USDA Forest Service. Click for original.
Photo by Brian Lockhart. Click for original.

Direct seeding is the process of sowing or planting seeds. In Minnesota, direct seeding is most often used to regenerate heavy-seeded hardwoods such as black walnut, oaks, and hickory. It is also used in some cases to regenerate jack pine or black spruce. In the right situations, direct seeding can be relatively inexpensive and can produce prolific regeneration.


When designing a plantation, you need to determine an appropriate spacing between trees. Consider the crown width of trees when they reach a useful size. For example, when growing trees for timber, allocate space so individual trees are just beginning to crowd each other when the trees are large enough to support a commercial thinning. A professional forester can help you determine the correct spacing depending on the species and purpose for the plantation.

The following table shows the number of trees needed per acre for various spacings. To calculate the number of trees per acre for other spacings, multiply the planned spacing (in feet) within rows by the spacing (in feet) between rows and divide that number into 43,560. For example, if trees are to be spaced 8 feet apart within rows and rows are to be 10 feet apart, you would plant 545 trees per acre:

43,560 =  545 TREES PER ACRE

Number of trees per acre at different spacings:

Spacing (ft) Trees per acre
4×4 2,722
5×5 1,742
6×6 1,210
7×7 890
8×8 680
9×9 538
10×10 436
11×11 368
12×12 303

Site Preparation

Site preparation often is necessary prior to planting. Its purposes usually are to expose mineral soil and set back competing vegetation. While site preparation can be done with hand tools, this method usually is expensive and vegetation that is cut down may resprout. There are herbicides available for site preparation that may be very effective and economical in some situations. You also can use mechanical methods such as disking, scalping, or trenching. If you use mechanical methods, be careful not to destroy the nutrient-rich organic layer near the soil surface. Often a combination of mechanical and chemical methods is most effective. In some circumstances controlled burning can be used to remove debris from sites and temporarily reduce vegetative competition.

Handling seedlings

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources packages its nursery trees in a plastic bag inside a wax-lined cardboard box. It recommends the following handling procedures:

  1. Protect the box of seedlings from direct sunlight and heat.
  2. Plant the seedlings as soon as possible. Seedlings should not be stored for more than three to five days and then only at temperatures of 35° to 45 F.
  3. Once you open the package, plant the seedlings immediately. Exposure of tree roots to hot sunlight and drying winds for three to five minutes may be fatal.
  4. While planting, keep the seedling roots moist, but do not immerse them in water for more than an hour.
  5. If you need to postpone planting for more than three to five days after receiving the trees, remove the seedlings from the container and heel them in a trench.
Heeling in seedlings for temporary storage
Heeling in seedlings for temporary storage

To heel-in trees, dig a V-shaped trench in a cool, shady location, deep enough so the earth will cover the entire root system and part of the lower stem. Open the boxes, spread the trees along the sloping side of the trench in two or three layers, pack soil around the roots, and water as necessary to keep the roots moist. Store trees in this manner only as long as they remain dormant.

An even better storage method is to place the seedlings in a refrigerator set at 40 F or slightly cooler.  It is absolutely essential that seedlings be planted before new growth starts to emerge. The sooner you plant the trees after they arrive from the nursery, the better the survival will be.

The best time to plant is in the spring as soon as the frost is out of the ground. At this time the soil is moist, the climate is somewhat mild, and normally there is ample rainfall. If necessary, container-grown seedlings can be planted later in the growing season. Fall planting usually is less successful because frost heaving may occur, especially on fine-textured or wet soils, and growth regulators in the tree may become imbalanced, leading to top dieback.

Be sure to take good care of seedlings before you plant them. They should be dormant when you receive them (i.e., the buds should not be elongating or flushed). Do not let the roots dry out or freeze.This will likely kill the trees, but since the crown will appear alive (conifers will remain green) for a period of time, you may not realize it. To minimize risk of tree roots drying during shipment, ask nurseries to ship by the swiftest transportation available. If you transport the trees yourself, protect them from wind and sun during transit.

General tree planting guidelines

You may plant trees by hand or machine. Regardless of the method, follow these rules:

  1. Plant the tree at the same depth that it grew in the nursery
  2. Plant the tree in a vertical, upright position to avoid a crooked stem.
  3. Place the roots in the planting hole in a normal position without twisting or bending.
  4. Carefully firm the soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
  5. Plant only when soil moisture is adequate to ensure survival.

Hand planting

Photo by Brian Lockhart. Click for original.
Photo by Brian Lockhart. Click for original.

There are two general methods of hand planting. One of these is the hole method. Dig a hole with a shovel, mattock, or grub hoe. It should be large enough to accommodate the tree roots without bending. Place the tree in the hole, distribute the roots evenly, and pack the soil firmly around the roots, covering the root collar. This method usually results in a high rate of survival, but it is slow and is not practical for planting large numbers of trees.

The slit or bar method is preferred when a large number of trees are being planted because it is faster. Insert a spade, planting bar, hoedad or similar tool into the soil and move it back and forth to form a V-shaped slit. Insert the tree seedling into the slit so it will be buried to the root collar or to the same depth the tree was growing in the nursery. (If you err at all, plant slightly too deep rather than too shallow.) Remove the planting bar and reinsert it about three inches behind the seedling. Pull the bar back to firm soil around the roots, then push forward on the bar to seal the top of the planting hole. Push soil into the second slit and press down firmly with your boot to seal the slit. Using this method, you can plant 1,000 to 3,000 seedlings per day, depending on your experience and the condition of the planting site.

This website illustrates proper hand-planting technique.

Videos: In 2013 Extension and Sugarloaf: The North Shore Stewardship Association produced a short video showing proper tree planting technique for container-grown and bare root seedlings:

Click the image to see the tree planting video on Sugarloaf's website.
Click the image to see the tree planting video on Sugarloaf’s website.

Tree planting machines
There are many designs for tree-planting machines, but generally they have a coulter that breaks through the soil surface, a V-shaped blade that opens a trench into which the operator places seedlings, and packing wheels that firm the soil around the seedlings. Some newer planting machines have spray attachments for applying herbicides for grass and weed control.

Tree-planting machines work best where terrain is fairly level and the site has been cleared of stumps and logging debris. If you use a tree-planting machine, protect seedlings from the wind and sun so the roots do not dry out. Place seedlings erect in the planting trench at the proper depth and pack the soil firmly around the roots. A three-person crew using a tree-planting machine can plant about 10,000 trees in an eight-hour day.

Protecting planted seedlings from damage

To you, newly planted seedlings are a future forest. To hungry deer, they’re a welcome meal on a cold winter day.

Deer herds in our area are far above historic norms. Deer love to browse seedlings, and unless you protect the seedlings well, deer will wipe them all out in the first winter after you plant them. There are a few common strategies to reduce deer browse damage:

Budcap. Click for original.

Budcapping. The main problem with deer browse is damage to the terminal leader (the tallest central stem). Stapling an index card over the terminal bud may deter some deer. I’ve heard other landowners talk about using different materials in place of paper once the deer get used to the paper. Other readers may want to suggest other materials?

Deer repellents : There are a variety of deer repellent products out there. Some are made from hot chili peppers, some from rotten eggs, some from blood meal (image), and maybe some others. You should be able to find these at garden supply centers.

Again, these have varying rates of effectiveness. But they do seem to work, at least for a while, in most cases. If you care to read more, here are links to two studies of different deer repellent products: Comparison and to a Walnut Council Deer Repellent Study (Illinois).

Fencing: While very effective, this approach quickly gets cost-prohibitive for large areas.

Protecting trees from meadow mice or voles:  Voles create runways and tunnels under dense vegetation and snow.  They feed on the bark of small shrubs and trees.  This damage can cause tree death.  A physical barrier to reduce vole damage in Minnesota is needed if damage is occuring.  Physical barriers, include hardware cloth, tin foil, tree shelters or plastic mesh.  These materials should placed around the tree and set into the soil to block the vole from reaching the tree stem.  Using tin foil has been shown to be effective if the foil is double wrapped around the lower six inches of the tree.

Reducing the habitat used by voles may be an effective way of reducing populations and potentially reducing vole damage.  Killing and removing vegetation in a 2 to 3 foot diameter circle around each tree combined with adding t-poles and owl boxes may increase hawk and owl predation.  However, controlling weeds will not prevent damage to your seedlings.  If voles are a problem, a physical barrier may be the best option.

Other control measures include repellants and the use of spring traps or poisons.  Repellants containing capsaicin (the substance that makes hot peppers hot) may deter vole feeding.  Poisons carry the risk of non-target species death.  If poisons are used they should be used following label instructions and placed in bait stations.

For more information read about Voles in the Landscape by J. Menken. Also see Protecting Trees and Shrubs Against Winter Damage by B. Swanson and D. Rideout.

Tree shelters:  Tree shelters may be solid walled, perforated or mesh tubes, typically 3 to 5 inches in diameter and 1 to 6 feet tall.  They are often used on hardwood or coniferous seedlings to protect trees from animal damage.  Each type of tree shelter provides different benefits and may affect plant growth differently.  For example, a 2’ tall mesh tree shelter can be effective at protecting the tree from rabbit damage.  A 4 or 6’ tall solid walled or perforated tree shelter may be effective at protecting a hardwood seedling from deer damage.  Increased height growth has been demonstrated from the use of solid walled shelters for some tree species.  Follow the distributors’ recommendations and talk with persons who have experience with tree shelters.  Proper use of tree shelters is essential to reducing risk and gaining the most benefit.

Competing vegetation: If you can keep the deer off of your seedlings, you’ll still need to control competing vegetation, especially in old field situations. There are many different ways to approach this, including use of herbicides, mechanical soil disruption (like discing), and more.

This will need to be an ongoing effort–planted seedlings will need several years of vegetation control in order to overtop and outcompete the weeds. You can learn more about controlling competing vegetation in your tree plantings in an Extension’s Woody Vegetation and Control publication.

Eli 's work addresses Minnesota forest ecology & management. He's based in St Paul.

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  1. HI, I would like to do is start a couple of hundred acorns in styrafome cups and plant them along the borderlines of my property. Al the info I could get about planting would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Hi Rodney. Starting oaks from seed is not easy, but is definitely doable as long as you’re careful about selecting viable seed, exposing them to cold for the winter, and protecting them from rodents. Here’s great guide from Mississippi State Extension on growing your own oaks from seed: (PDF). They may have different species in Mississippi, but the process is the same, including the temperatures for cold stratification. Good luck!

  3. Years ago in the watergate era, my brother and i had a tree planting machine on a three point hitch behind a F14 farmall tractor. We hauled it all over Itasca county every spring planting seedlings. I have restored the tractor and am looking for a machine like we had, three point hitch, one of us rode on the back over the wheels, wheelbarrow wheels that packed the slit made by the rolling colter and the wedge. It was a simple machine, and Ijust cannot remember themake, Id like go on ebay and find one… for restoration.. We hit ten acres one day, not a rock on it. The rocks were the enemy of the rolling colter, and we planted 10,000 norway in 10 hours. You cans ee this stand south of Grand Rapids with a housing development inside it. Time goes by….

    1. Great story Mark! It must be gratifying to look at that stand now and remember that long day of planting that got it started. Ebay or Craigslist might turn up a planting machine, but a better source might be the DNR’s Marketplace Bulletin.

      There’s no cost to place an ad. While an ad in the MB might reach fewer people, it’ll be a lot more targeted toward folks who might know where to find the kind of planter you’re looking for. Instructions for placing an ad are on page 8 of the Fall 2010 issue. (If interested, lots of back issues are here.)

      Thanks for the story and good luck tracking down the planter!

  4. Those planters were made as needed; some of the DNR offices have one to borrow. I believe a man named Maki from Esko developed them originally.

  5. For Bud Capping use tyvek house wrap cut into strips…then staple it on the main shoot. It will last for as long a you want

  6. Thank you so much for starting this forum. I am looking suggestions on protecting poplar seedling from deer, mice and voles. I planted 1500 poplar last year. As I was putting the last 100 trees in the ground my two neighbors came to inquire about my planting; they stated they had planted several hundred poplar over the years to have them all girdled by mice and voles?
    I have 600 varieties of oak trees ordered for this spring. Looking for any stories of successful tricks to nurture the oaks over the next 5-10 years. I purchased 50 tree tubes for crab apple and oak trees I also planted last year. I wish they were more cost prohibitive to buy for the 1000s of seedlings I have. But it was amazing to see how well they encouraged growth with some crab apple trees growing 2-4 feet in the first year in the ground vs. inches of the unprotected test crab apple trees.

    1. Hi JT. Great questions, and I hope we can help you find an answer that protects some of your seedlings.

      First off, you will definitely need to protect the seedlings from rodents, particularly over the winter. I’d recommend some sort of mechanical barrier to do that (see the “Rodents” section in Extension’s Protecting Trees and Shrubs from Winter Damage pub or this short guide). While anchoring wire mesh tree tubes 2″ underground may not be practical for large-scale plantings like yours, you will get some protection from anchoring them at ground level. There are a variety of other tree tube designs available that, if properly anchored very close to the ground, can provide protection.

      One landowner, a recent Minnesota Tree Farmer of the Year, used a combination of soft plastic tree shelters with rodent bait traps for an oak planting, as pictured here and here. He has found this approach effective in the past, although it takes a lot of work and some expense to establish and maintain the bait stations.

      Another approach is repellents: “If many trees and shrubs are to be protected, application of a commercial repellent may be more practical. The repellent can be sprayed or painted on the trunks and branches. The effectiveness and duration of the repellent will depend on the severity of the winter and the availability of other food (source)”

      Good luck! I hope this information helps, and would love to hear back what you tried and how well it worked.

  7. I love the idea of the rodent bait traps in the photos. Is there a suggested number of stations per acre and do you raise the stations to snow level during the winter?
    Is there a brand name to the repellent that be sprayed on trees?

  8. I am wondering if the 5′ tall x 5″ diameter plastic tree tubes used for deciduous tree seedlings could be cut into 20″ tall pieces and used for red & white pines. It would get them through the first few years & could be pulled up for future years.

    Anyone with any experience or opinion?

    1. I know you can order 12″ and 24″ tree tubes. Seems very time consuming having to cut the 5′ tree tubes.
      My best luck with 2500 white pine seedings was stapling 1/2 of a manilla to the main lead so the deer wouldn’t browse the tops. A lot of work but took 4 of us a couple of hours to do 2500. I left another 500 without and it is night and day difference in the growth of the trees.

  9. I have cut longer tubes in half before. You may need to punch some holes for stake ties in them if the cutting leaves too few existing holes. I have wondered if the cut tubes without a flared top lead to any bark damage as the tree grows up out of the tube and the wind bangs it against the sharper top edge. I haven’t noticed the problem, but I know the manufacturers recommend ventilated or mesh tubes for wide open/windy sites as a way to combat bark damage.

    There are a couple of other issues with tree tubes I wanted to mention.

    1st is their propensity to kill birds, particularly bluebirds and tree swallows. They will land on the lip of a shelter and jump down into it–and then find themselves trapped, doomed to a slow death. One brand of shelter used to sell mesh caps designed to help minimize this. I don’t think they all come with a cap these days, but it might something to consider if you are planting in a site that will likely be attractive to bluebirds or tree swallows. In my experience this has been more of a problem in 4 foot and taller tubes.

    Also, very lush tree growth extending into early fall is possible within solid tree tubes, and a hard frost can led to some stem dieback. This doesn’t necessarily kill the tree–in some hardwoods I have seen repeated die back end after a few years. I believe that the root system grows enough to eventually allow the tree to grow right up and out of the tube in one growth year–after which dieback is less common.

    Some of the new tube designs account for this with holes punched in the tube to facilitate drying air flow. I have had good luck just liftting the tube slightly on the stake before the first frost, so the bottom is open to air flow. I drop the tube back down before winter comes, when the small rodents and rabbits are most likely to do their damage.

    If you are just looking for critter protection and can do without the “greenhouse” growth boost of a solid shelter, the open mesh shelters solve a bunch of the issues noted above.

  10. I am planning to reforest 2 acres of old farmland (currently grassland) in Otter Tail County.

    I have ordered some bare root seedlings from the Arbor Day Foundation as they have the best prices I could find (50 Colorado Spruce, 50 White Pines, 50 Sugar Maples). Obviously, I’ll need more trees than this but it’s a start. I do want to make sure I am planting an appropriate mix of trees. The nearby woodlands is a mix of primarily maple and spruce with some elm.

    Could you recommend a good mix of trees? And/or a local source for bare root seedlings at a good price?

    1. Depending on how many you need, I have found the quality of trees from the MN State Nursery good. And the prices can’t be beat.

      I have purchased there packages (listed on the bottom of the pricing sheet) to add diversity to my tree plantings; oaks, spruce, white & red pine, crabapples, dogwoods, and this year I am purchasing the spruce/fir combo.
      Minimum order is 500 seedlings.

    2. Wow! Thanks. Those are great prices. I was planning to plant 250 this spring, but I guess I’ll do 500.

      Do you use seedling protectors or just assume that some aren’t gonna make it due to deer or rodents?

    3. I have started using tree tubes from Scott Berta has been great to work with and very helpful with questions. I ordered the Tubex combitube 4 ft’. Looking back I wish I ordered the 5′. I had crab apples grow over 4′ in a season with the tubes, and the deer already browse the tops off. I swear by the trees tubes. I planted over 600 oak and black cherry last year, and had a DNR forester walk my property in November. He couldn’t believe the growth I had with the tubes. He also added the tubes I selected were the best for MN’s climate changes because of the venting. The tubes also allowed me to spray the base with round up this summer to kill the competing grasses. Not one tree was lost with my spraying or to rodents.
      As far as the spruce and pine go. I have had mixed resulted. The deer haven’t touched the spruce until they are big enough to start rubbing, and they have gotten a hold of a dozen spruce. The white pine I let go the first year. The second year I stapled bud caps on the leader. The deer could browse the lower branches, but couldn’t touch the leader to stunt the growth. I used manila office folders ripped in half, and stapled tight to the leader. The leader would grow through the top open. The bud caps lasted a couple of years, and allowed the trees to get tall enough the deer didn’t bother the height growth. Here is where the story gets odd. I have been planting red and jack pine for years, and the deer always left them alone. Until last year. I had a dozen jack and red pine hammered. Some of these pines were 7′ tall, and the mowed every branch they could reach on their hind legs. This year they must’ve started liking the taste, because every single red and jack pine have been destroyed. They didn’t touch a single white pine I could find.

    4. Thanks for the info! Just ordered my evergreen package from the DNR today. Can’t wait for the ground to thaw.

    5. I’ll end up planting about 1,200 trees, starting with the 500 Evergreen Package from the DNR. If I also want to work in some maples and fruit bearing trees, should I intersperse all the types or do stand of white pine, stand of fir, stand of sugar maples etc?

  11. This is personal choice and what your objectives for your land are. I personally like the diversity of mixed woods. I do have solid stands of white pines I planted 15 years ago; used for screening and blocking. But more recently I have begun to mix the spruce and pine together. I recently have had the rust that affects white pines, and I needed to trim the lower branches for air flow. So I lost the screening from the pines. Wish I would have inter mixed spruce when I planted.
    My most recent years, I have planted poplar, oaks, black cherry, crab apple, pines and spruce mixed together; 2000+ seedlings. My goal is for wildlife vs. logging. Changing up my spacing from 8-16′ a part.

    1. Perfect. Thanks! I’m not looking to log either. For wildlife, carbon sequestration and personal enjoyment. Maybe 1-2 Christmas trees/year.

  12. When I taught years ago, I received seedlings for my classroom from the DNR. I took several years off to,raise my children, now back teaching, I wonder if there is this program available?

    1. Hi Korrine. Good question. I would suggest either calling the state tree seedling nursery program or, if you are teaching in a school that has a designated School Forest (another program administered by DNR), making contact through that program. Good luck! Planting trees and watching them grow can be a terrific learning experience for kids.

  13. 1) The Walnut Council Deer Repellant Study above link is dead.

    2) I have numerous walnut volunteers I would like to transplant (50-100).
    They range in height currently from 1-2′ mostly with some up to 4-5′ that
    are older than one year. Can I transplant them via bareroot? How? Your
    site explains how to plant them but not the method and – most importantly –
    timing of how to remove them. I’m guessing I waited too long for the larger
    specimens to bareroot? These would be moved 5 miles so there would be
    a delay between digging up a number and then replanting.

  14. When I cut down some of the many basswoods in an effort to protect some of the oaks I simply leave them on the ground hoping to keep the deer away giving some time for new oaks to grow between the branches. Just beginning this experiment but wondered if others have tried and succeeded? I’ve tried every other means above and this is a lot less work for smaller areas….

    1. Interesting approach John! I’m not aware of anyone that is trying this tactic, but it certainly sounds like another strategy that encourages oak seedling development. This also promotes the amount of deadwood that is useful for a number of other organisms in the forest. Keep us posted! -Matt

    2. John – I have tried this method of trying to protect oak. It will also promote their growth with the added sun light they are receiving. I use a technique called hinge cutting. With the maples and basswood, I cut between waist high and chest level roughly half way through allowing the tree to stay connected to the stump. The tree laying horizontal will continue to sprout buds and the stump will send up new growth. The deer and turkeys love this new browse. My new oaks have exploded with the added sun light and less stress from the deer.
      Here is a link I have read through several different times regarding hinge cutting and improvement to your woods:
      Keep us posted how your project turns out.

    3. JT…I really appreciate the comments. After many years working my woodlands it finally hit me to try something like this. It’s very enlightening to hear it’s been tried and delighted to hear it’s encouraged. Indeed I’m rolling back time to open areas for my hardwood trees that have been losing a slow motion battle. It also saves on back pain to cut waist high. I must admit it can be a little dangerous to cut larger trees this way as there can be a sideways kickback of the trunk if it comes unhinged when it falls. This can happen when you are trying to precisely fell a tree between other trees and your focus is on the falling tree and not the cut area. thanks again for the comments and link…enjoy the woodlands and be safe! JP

    4. John – Thank you Thank you Thank you! For mentioning the safety issue! You are absolutely 100% correct that some of the big trees in the woods should not be hinge cut because of the danger involved. I have been mainly hinge cutting anything 12″ or smaller, and girdling the larger trees. The maples can be difficult to kill and require a couple of years of girdling to kill off. This practice allows the woods dead standing wood; has helped keep the woodpeckers from pounding on the side of my cabin.
      The safety equipment for cutting is readily available now. A helmet with drop visor and ear protection are a must along with chaps.
      Now is a great time to be in the woods; the deer will enjoy the new browse from the tree tops.
      I have spent time prior to cutting marking with paint or marking tape all my keeper trees (oaks) prior to firing up the saw. It’s not hard to get rolling in the woods and the next thing you know you cut down a nice 12-20′ oak tree.

    5. indeed you’re right about getting going with the chainsaw and cutting a random oak…….all you can do is lament….stay safe out there everyone!….

  15. I’m looking to find information/research on planting 1 and 2 year old container stock seedlings on old field planting sites. Many agencies prefer bare root stock in these situations but with all of the pros for C/S (longer planting season, no cold storage required, less expensive product) we need to know what works and what doesn’t. Any suggestions or work of this nature that you’re aware of? Thanks,

    1. Thanks for your message Peter. I’d encourage you to also take a peak at Extension’s planting trees page to find our recommended species by region (depending on your location. Container-grown seedlings are certainly adaptable to old field sites given they are adaptable for planting on dry sites.-Matt

    2. For what it’s worth, I planted a few hundred evergreen bare root seedlings on an old field site last spring. I just visited yesterday and the cedar really struggled. The pines and spruce fared much better. I’ll plant the “wild turkey packet” from the DNR this spring. We’ll see how that goes. Brent

    3. Thanks for sharing Brent! We know that the wild turkey mix is a popular one that DNR offers. Best of luck with your new trees! -Matt

  16. Great comments. I’ve just been working at reforesting my site a half mile off the northshore near Lutsen and get my mesh tree tubes from Seems like good prices. I use these for my hardwood seedlings.

    I also had a lot of deer browse this past winter on both my white and red pines where I didn’t use a bud cap or mesh tube, even some of my spruce were munched right down to the ground.

    I’ll be planing about 200 ceder and tamarack seedlings in May sourced from South St. Louis Cty Soil and Water…I see that they can struggle more than the pines and spruce. Any advice on how to support these species to get them established and growing right away. I’m planning to plant them on a site that is wetter, especially in the spring. Should I plant them in the mesh tree tubes, I have the larger 5″ by 36″ mesh tubes.

    Thanks for this blog! Don

    1. Don – little late for you now, but wondering where you are planting the cedar in terms of shade/sun. I planted 100 – 200 a couple years back. The seedlings in full sun had close to a 0% survival rate. Those in at least partial shade fared pretty well.

      I’ve been using the mesh tubes and bamboo stakes as well. Once you get a good system down it goes pretty quickly. I use two seedling bags. One for seedlings and one for stakes/tubes. It’s the back and forth to replenish supplies that is the real time/labor suck.

  17. What works for me that is both inexpensive and low mortality for trees and also promotes “the” pest animals to explore other dining options. Simply staple a dryer sheet near to the leader tip on seedlings and transplants. Ensure to staple the dryer sheet to itself. I twist the sheet into a bow shape, wrap around the leader-not tight-but firmly and staple the dryer sheet to itself. I have found this works best for trees 3′ and below height wise. You can spray a whiff of colored paint on the dryer sheet if you need to for some reason know where that tree is in the snow next to the road before you shear it off with the snowplow. Trees at or taller then 3′ best practice is the dryer sheet placed at deer nose high. Seems deer don’t care for the stench of sheet and tend to move on. Have had success with the dryer sheets stuck down-hidden from my sight- in the hosta beds which are like a most tasty salad to the opportunistic browsers. For fruit trees and shrubs such as dogwoods, dried blood sprinkled at the base and on to the trunk deters rabbits and vermin from getting their gnaw on. Re sprink if needed as snow depth increases. These are cheap and effective, almost once and done solutions that work for me-Mic

  18. About 10 years ago I bud capped a couple hundred white pine transplants in late October. A couple weeks later, while deer hunting, I found the bud caps were systematically removed from my trees and the leaders on each tree was snipped off (browsed). You could see exactly where the deer had walked by following the “paper trail” they left behind. By the next spring at least 95% of my white pine transplants were decapitated. I now use plastic mesh sleeves which are supported by bamboo stakes. It’s a lot more labor intensive, but my survival rate is nearly 100%.