LET’S FACE IT: winter’s quiet in the garden. But February is prime time to plant an ornamental tree. Winter dormancy offers the best time for transplanting in advance of spring’s blossoms, and well-placed trees can boost your neighborhood’s beauty and livability. As trees grow along and over the street, studies show, drivers slow down. Trees also purify air, intercept stormwater, regulate temperatures, and provide habitat. Consider a tree’s height and width at maturity; whether you want evergreen or deciduous; water and sunlight needs; disease resistance; foliage; flowers or fruit; and the ornamental qualities of the bark. To plant, dig an area the same depth as the roots and three to five times wider than the existing root ball. Spread out the roots, cleanly cutting any circling roots, and position so roots are just below the ground’s surface and the base of the trunk flare sits just above. Water the tree after planting: roots should still be just below the surface. For more—much more—see friendsoftrees.org.

To dig deeper, see Kate Bryant’s blog Plantwise