Photo: Helix’s Director of Operations Kevin Miller minds the details while the kids do the shoveling.

Helix Helps headed out to Kennedy Park last Saturday for the city of El Cajon’s Arbor Day celebration.

The city put on a great event, with about 60 people showing up to plant a new generation of trees throughout the park, and the experts from the Ornamental Horticulture Program at Cuyamaca College on hand to show everyone how to do it.

In addition, West Coast Arborist, CalFire, SDG&E and Helix all had educational booths set up and information to take home on where to plant trees and how they can reduce a homeowner’s energy and water bills.

Top Left: Leah Rottke, an arborist and instructor in the Ornamental Horticulture Program at Cuyamaca College, gives everyone a step-by-step lesson in tree planting. Top Right: Helix’s Michelle Curtis sharing water conservation tips with customers. Above: the Helix Helps gang.

How to Plant a Tree

Helix Board Secretary Sandy Janzen and her husband Doyle got some useful tips from one of the experts on hand Saturday from Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture Program.

Dig Your Hole

The hole should be twice as wide as the pot that the tree is in. This way, the tree will have a ring of soft soil around the roots, allowing them to grow outward.

Find the Top of the Roots

Brush away the dirt until you find a wide spot at the base of a tree’s trunk — this is the top of the roots. When you plant a tree, you want the top of the roots to be an inch above the soil.

Don't Let Your Tree Sink

It may take a few times — taking more soil out or putting some back in — to get the depth of your hole just right, so that the top of the roots are just above ground level. Stomp on your soil so it provides a firm platform for your tree.

Keep the Trunk Dry

Water a newly planted tree right away with a hose. It’s best to keep the trunk dry, so build two rings with your soil — the inner ring should be about 12 inches from the trunk and the outer ring should be be about 8 inches further out — and fill the area between the rings with water.