top of page

Recent Posts


Planting Native Trees

By Maria Kauzmann | Posted April 9, 2024

Lately I’ve been researching how to replant my small patch of woods. With the massive loss of ash trees to the emerald ash borer, I look out my window to a greatly diminished forest. My research brought me to Larry Koplik, the chair of Montgomery’s Shade Tree Committee. Mr. Koplik has a wealth of knowledge of what, when, where and how to plant trees so they thrive for many years to come.

White oak is a native tree.

Being in the Northeast of the United States we have the luxury of an environment in which a large variety of deciduous and evergreen trees fill our forests. Mr. Koplik recommends a number of native trees that are suitable for our area. For fast growing trees he suggested tulip poplars, river birches, disease-resistant American elms (such as “Valley Forge” or “Princeton”), American lindens (basswoods), and American sycamores. In areas that are a bit wet he says to try black willow, swamp white oak, river birch, and American elms and sycamores.

He also named white oak varieties as valuable host trees, feeding a huge variety of moths and butterflies which provide essential food for almost all song birds and their babies. The white oak is also much less susceptible to bacterial leaf scorch, which particularly affects oak trees in the red oak family, especially pin oaks.

He says, black walnut, silver maple, sugar maple, red maple, tupelo, sweetgum, American hornbeam, shagbark hickory, willow oak, redbud, amelanchier (serviceberry), paw paw, and persimmon trees are also all excellent choices for our local area. Good native evergreens include white pine, American holly, and Eastern red cedar. You can go to any of the local quality nurseries and ask what native tree species they carry. Most can also deliver and even plant your new tree if you wish.


However, if you want to venture out on your own and support some great organizations you can purchase native plants and trees from D&R Greenway off Rosedale Road in Princeton during their Spring plant sale on April 25-27 ( If you travel a bit further you can visit the Bowman’s Hill Native Plant Nursery Sale beginning on April 12. Located at 1635 River Rd., New Hope (

Once you have your trees at home and are ready to plant, Mr. Koplik had a few important notes. If you have purchased a tree in a pot, start by taking the tree out and loosening the roots. You can use a hand claw to gently but thoroughly loosen the roots so they can easily grow in all directions to give the tree a strong root base.

To plant dig a hole 2-3 times the width of the pot or the root ball. Gently place the tree in the hole and leave the top surface of the soil about 2” above the ground level. Mix compost with fill dirt and place around the root ball, tamp lightly and settled by watering. Water at least once a week in dry weather.

You should add a 2-4” layer of mulch around the tree to help retain water and reduce competing weeds, but keep mulch 4-6” away from the tree trunk. Larry says, to protect your new tree from deer, it is important to add fencing. Create a circle that is 5’ high and 3’ in diameter. Place around tree, and attach support stakes to prevent deer or wind from knocking over the fence.

For further recommendations on native trees and their care, visit the Shade Tree Committee’s website and click on tree care information.

Spring is a great time to plant new trees! Add a little future shade in your yard, and consider making it a family project. In 2000, my kids helped plant two sweet gum trees they received from the Shade Tree Committee’s Arbor Day program for third graders. Today those trees are healthy and over 40 feet tall.

1 Comment

Barbara Preston
Apr 12

Happy Arbor Day

bottom of page