Southern Californians are spoiled with beautiful trees, including an assortment of oaks, willows, pines, and palms. They provide us with oxygen to breathe, shade from the sun, and protection from the wind. Trees can also offer a tasty treat in the form of locally-grown peaches, oranges, avocados, and more.

Arbor Day is happening Friday, April 24, which is the perfect time to make a plan to plant a tree of your own. Don’t be intimidated if it’s your first time; just follow these necessary steps.

Step 1: Mark your calendar.

According to experts, late summer and early fall are the best times of the year to plant your tree. The goal is to get the roots set right before wet weather arrives. Using Mother Nature as your primary water source is also an excellent way to conserve our natural resources. Planting too soon in the year will mean the young tree will need to survive the hot summer months.

Step 2: Pick your spot.

No matter where you elect to plant your tree, be sure to receive approval from the landowners. Also, watch out for power and communication lines overhead. Next, select the best tree for the location, as different species come with different requirements. For instance, some trees require specific shade, water, or soil to flourish. Do your homework; you don’t want to end up with more tree than you can manage. For instance, magnolias are popular in Southern California; however, they can grow up to 100 feet tall.

Step 3: Bring a shovel.

A general rule of thumb is to dig a hole that is two to three times larger than the cluster of roots you are planting. The roots need some elbow room to gain their strength and ensure that they’ll be able to grow into the new soil surroundings. At the same time, digging your hole too deep could stunt your tree’s growth and keep it from reaching its full potential. After getting your tree situated in the hole, use the dirt you removed to fill in the remaining spaces, so it’s nice and snug.

Step 4: Give some support.

You should plan on using one or two tree stakes if you plant a tree that is more than three feet high. The same goes for trees exposed to high winds. In both cases, the stakes should remain for a year so the roots have time to gain the strength they’ll need to support the tree.

Step 5: Add mulch.

The final step is to add two to three inches of mulch around the base of the tree. Made of manure, grass clippings, or shredded tree material, mulch keeps the soil moist and cuts down on weeds while making the tree look amazing. Then it’s time to water your tree and let it grow.

By following these steps, you can plant a tree that will bring years of enjoyment to you and everyone around you.