Forestry: Tools and Equipment for Tree Planting

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Forestry: Tools and Equipment for Tree Planting

Tree planting is an essential part of forestry management. Selecting the right tools and equipment can make tree planting more efficient and effective. This guide covers everything beginners need to know about choosing forestry tools and equipment for tree planting projects.

Why Use Specialized Tools?

Tree planting requires preparing soil, digging holes, setting seedlings, and protecting newly planted trees. Using the wrong tools wastes time and causes injuries. Specialized forestry tools improve efficiency and reduce physical strain.

Forestry suppliers offer durable tools designed for the rigors of outdoor work. Ergonomic handles reduce hand fatigue. Lightweight materials like fiberglass and aluminum ease strain. Tools built for tree planting make work safer, faster, and simpler.

Common Tree Planting Tools

Hand tools for digging holes and setting trees are tree planting basics. Most tree planters carry these essential tools on their person for quick access. Typical gear includes:

Planting Shovels & Augers

Shovels quickly dig holes to set seedlings. Special planting shovels have narrow blades to reduce soil disturbance. Augers bore holes with a twisting action. This takes less effort than digging and is gentler on soil.

Rake & Roller Combo Tools

Combo rake/rollers scrape forest litter and smooth soil in one pass. The rake end loosens soil and removes debris. After planting, the roller firms soil around seedling roots. Models with a single handle maximize control.

Tree Planting Bars

Bars make leveraging holes simple. Use an angled, foot-pressed bar for leverage. Curved bars pull soil backward to make room for roots. Quickly reopen partly filled holes too. Bars take physical stress off planters.

Pulaskis & Rhinos

These dual-purpose tools combine an axe to chop roots and break soil with a hoe to rake debris. The pulaski handle angles down for digging leverage. Rhinos have an upright handle for swinging like an axe. Both clear space for planting holes.

Transportation Tools

Carrying trees across remote terrain necessary for forestry requires unique gear. Backpacks, bags, and wagons designed for seedling transport protect delicate trees. Models made for forestry work have:


Padding shields plants from damage during transport. Foam or gentle fabric protects plants from abrasion. Padding extends plant freshness and survival rates.

Shoulder Straps

Well-padded shoulder straps ease strain. Wide straps prevent digging and distribution across the shoulders and back. Wider straps increase comfort for heavier loads.


Waterproof fabrics shield from rain and spills. Models with waterproof linings maintain dryness. Some bags offer waterproof pockets to protect paper planting records too.

Common Forestry Transportation Tools

Tree planting crews need specialized transportation tools for efficiency. Common options include:

Tree Planting Bags

Lightweight bags designed for seedling transport are a planting essential. Shoulder and backpack styles allow easy access to trees. Models with exterior pockets and attachments organize gear. Choose bags in bright colors for visibility.

Seedling Transportation Wagons

Wagons haul seedlings into remote terrain. Models intended for forestry have oversized wheels to traverse ruts and holes. Tree planting trailers attach to ATVs and tractors for large projects. Custom storage protects plants during hauls.

Tree Protection Tools

Young trees need protection from animals, weather, and competition. Plastic tubes, mats, and fabrics safeguard trees after planting. Common protection tools include:

Tree Shelters & Tubes

Plastic tubes shield seedlings from animals and wind. Tubes come in vented and solid styles. Vented models offer airflow and reduce moisture buildup. Solid tubes provide more protection. Stakes keep tubes upright in wind.

Weed Mats

Fabric mats smother competing plants around new trees. Natural burlap and plastic weed barriers limit growth. Mats reduce maintenance until trees establish. Use mat slits to set trees directly within barriers.

Tree Wraps

Breathable, white wraps reflect sunlight to prevent bark burn. Wraps protect thin-barked trees like maples and fruit trees. Wrap from the base to the first branches. Remove plastic wraps in winter to avoid tree damage.

Measuring & Surveying Equipment

Tree planting requires careful spacing, depth, and alignment. Specialized gear marks guidelines and measures holes for consistency. Helpful tools include:


Dibbles make uniformly aligned holes for seedlings. Insert this hand tool straight down to desired depth. Remove the handle while pressing edges inward to make an ideal hole. Marks along the shaft indicate depth.

Planting Line Dispensers & String Boxes

Mark straight planting lines with string and flour. Reusable dispensers hold bulk line or flour to mark guidelines between planted rows. Loose flour trickles out evenly for straight lines. Quickly spool out needed line length.

Planting Sticks

Portable sticks measure planting hole depth. These wooden poles have depth increments etched into sides. Place poles in holes and remove to check depth at a glance. Adjust digging depth for consistency. Carry several sticks for a crew to share.

Personal Protective Equipment

Tree planting work carries safety risks from sharp tools, wildlife, and weather. Protective clothing safeguards planters from injury. Use:

Eye Protection

Wrap-around glasses shield eyes from debris. Choose wraparound styles that seal against dust and dirt. Yellow lenses improve visibility in overcast conditions. Mesh side shields offer ventilation.

Work Gloves

Gloves prevent blisters while improving grip. Leather palm gloves withstand scraping. Flexible spandex backs keep hands cool. Look for ventilation panels to prevent sweating inside of gloves.

Snake Guards & Chaps

Thick leather guards protect forestry workers from snakes. Snakeproof chaps cover lower legs and the top of boots. Knee guards shield joints when kneeling. Water-resistant materials prevent mold growth.

Convenient Tree Planting Accessories

Helpful accessories boost planting efficiency. Gear to carry, organize, and access equipment saves time spent preparing. Useful add-ons include:

Tree Planting Tool Vests & Belts

Vests and belts keep essentials on-hand while keeping hands free. Models designed for forestry have ample pocket space sized for common tools. Shoulder slots allow vest wear over bags. Custom inserts organize small items.

Field Desks

Portable field desks provide space for planting records. Folding desks offer storage for pens, maps, and plans. Desk height aligns perfectly for upright writing comfort. Carry desks on straps like backpacks.

Tree Flagging Tools

Flagging attaches visible markers to trees needing follow-up care. Flagging pliers quickly clip colored tape strips onto branches and shelters. Use flag colors to denote issues for the crew. Add waterproof labels for details.

Power Tools for Tree Planting Prep

Manual tree planting covers ground slowly. Power tools ready planting sites by clearing vegetation efficiently. Helpful motorized options include:

Brush Cutters

Motorized brush blades mow down dense vegetation. Allow freshly cut material to dry before burning to prevent accidental wildfires. Some large forestry mowers mulch debris as they cut.

Tillers & Plows

Roto-tillers churn and aerate soil while controlling weeds. Adjust tines to desired planting depth – typically 4-8 inches. Use ATV-mounted plow blades to loosen soil if planting after crops.

Stump Grinders

Grinders with carbide teeth pulverize unwanted stumps. Models meant for forestry have durable components that withstand prolonged use. Grind stumps below ground level to simplify planting spot prep.

Improving Tree Planting Equipment Over Time

Tree planting gear represents a substantial investment, but the equipment lasts for years when properly maintained. Follow these tips to improve longevity:

Clean After Each Use

Wash dirt off tools to prevent corrosion and rust. Lubricate moving parts to prevent seizing. Clean fabric components with disinfectant to kill mold and microbes. Let all gear dry completely before storage.

Sharpen Blades

Use a file guide to maintain proper bevel angles when sharpening. A couple passes after each use keeps edges keen. Replace damaged handles and other components as needed. Always replace loose or splitting wooden handles.

Prevent Damage

Provide padding during transport to prevent nicks and cracks. Set tools gently on the ground – never throw them. Ensure everyone in the crew knows proper tool handling. One slip can take an essential tool out of commission.

Water Backpacks & Coolers

Hydration packs with 2-3 liter bladders supply ample water. Coolers keep reserve bottles cold. Pack clean water rather than rely on natural sources to prevent giardia. Position water sources together for easy refilling.

First Aid Kits

Kits tailored for forestry work contain treatments for common injuries. These include blister pads, burn gel, large bandages, and antiseptic. Choose kits with quick reference guides for treatment steps. Check and replenish kit contents regularly.

Additional Important Considerations

Proper tools maximize planting success, but equipment alone does not guarantee results. Follow these tips when selecting gear:

Match Area Size

Gauge planted acreage to determine necessary tools and helpers. Larger equipment like ATV spray rigs benefits big projects but becomes cumbersome for small sites.

Consult Local Forestry Agencies

State and local forestry commissions provide guides on regulations, best practices, and branded programs. Gear advice tailored for regional conditions improves outcomes. Confirm all equipment selections with agencies first.

Factor in Crew Skill Level

Choose easier to operate equipment for new crews. Complex machinery with many components may overwhelm beginners. Experienced planters handle specialized tools better. Match tools to capabilities.

Consider Future Use

Equipment intended for a single project gathers dust once finished. Evaluate whether tools serve future needs before buying. Renting specialized gear occasionally makes more sense.

Key Takeaways

The right tree planting tools and equipment improve efficiency while reducing frustration and injury. Keep these main points in mind when selecting forestry gear:

  • Ergonomic hand tools designed for digging and planting reduce fatigue.
  • Bags, packs, and wagons created specifically for seedling transport limit damage.
  • Tree shelters, mats and wraps protect vulnerable new saplings.
  • Measuring implements ensure proper planting technique.
  • Safety gear like gloves and eye protection prevent accidents.
  • Convenient accessories minimize wasted time between plantings.
  • Power tools ready land for planting quickly and thoroughly.
  • Well-maintained equipment lasts for years rather than single seasons.

With quality gear matched to project scale and worker ability, tree planting crews can sustain progress and accuracy from the first hole till the last seedling. The right tools empower planters to enrich forests for the future through their present efforts.

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