Life Times Newsletter

Spring 2005
Vol. 7, No. 2
A quarterly publication to enhance
the quality of life of individuals,
families, and communities



Planting trees in your yard

Timothy W. Horton
Horticulture Specialist 

Spring is here, and with it, we’re seeing all sorts of trees at local garden centers. With lots of trees to choose from, you should carefully select the right tree.

Things to consider before buying a tree include the tree’s growth rate and height, water needs and shade tolerance. In other words, make sure you plant the right tree in the right spot!  This article focuses on how to plant and care for your tree once you’ve brought it home.

Regardless of what type of tree you buy, it will suffer stress from transplanting. As a result, proper site preparation, planting technique and maintenance will help to ensure the tree becomes established and thrives in its new environment.

Step 1: Selecting a quality tree

First, make sure the tree you purchase is in good condition. If it’s a bare-root tree, select a tree with a large, well-balanced root system. Make sure the roots are not dried or shriveled. If you choose a balled and burlapped tree, choose one with firm soil around the roots and with as large of a soil ball as possible (so it will contain more roots). Remember:  The more roots a transplanted tree starts with, the more likely it is to survive.

For example, if you choose a tree with a 2-inch-diameter trunk, then it should also have a soil ball at least 24 inches in diameter. In addition, the trunk should not wobble in the soil ball. Once you purchase your tree, remember to keep it in good condition until it can be planted. Water it regularly, and never let the roots dry out.

Step 2: Digging the hole

When digging the hole for a tree, keep in mind that most of the tree’s roots will grow within 12 inches of the soil surface. You should not plant the tree any deeper than it grew in the nursery. In fact, before you place the tree in the hole, brush back some of the soil on top of the roots to make sure you plant the tree with the roots near the soil surface.

Tree roots will grow very slowly in dense soil. Take time to loosen the soil around your planting hole to a depth of about 8 to 12 inches and a diameter of about 2 to 3 times the diameter of the soil ball. This will encourage the roots to grow faster and farther out into the soil.

Carefully place the tree in the center of the planting hole; remove any twine or rope from around the trunk. Also remove the burlap from the top of the soil ball. If it came in a wire basket, remove the top row of squares to prevent hitting them with a mower. Backfill the planting hole and apply mulch as soon as possible.

Step 3: Mulching and care

Mulch will help to conserve soil moisture and prevent competition for soil nutrients from turfgrass and other plants. Mulch should never be deeper than 4 inches, but apply it out as far around the tree as possible.

Remember to water the new tree regularly. An effective way to water the tree is to use drip irrigation. The simplest and probably least expensive method is to drill small holes in the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket to allow water to slowly trickle into the root system. This can be done 2 to 3 times per week to keep the root ball moist without drowning the tree. By using this method, you will know exactly how much water you have added.

Improve your blood pressure with DASH eating plan

Mary Schroepfer, MED
Nutrition & Health Education Specialist

Research has shown that high blood pressure, or hypertension, can be lowered by following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan and reducing the amount of sodium consumed.

The DASH study, supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), showed that blood pressures were reduced with an eating plan that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat, and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. This eating plan—known as the DASH eating plan—also includes whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts. It is rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as protein and fiber, and it calls for reduced amounts of red meat, sweets and sugar-containing beverages.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume 4 ½ to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, which is about half the food on your plate at each meal. The DASH eating plan is in line with these recommendations.

In the DASH study, the greatest blood pressure reductions were for the DASH eating plan when people consumed 1,500 milligrams or less of sodium per day. Those with hypertension saw the biggest reductions in blood pressure, but those without hypertension also saw large decreases in blood pressure.

Americans get only half the amount of potassium and fiber they need. The majority of Americans don’t get nearly enough vitamin C, vitamin A, or magnesium. Fruits and vegetables are rich in all of these.

Diets rich in potassium can lower blood pressure and help blunt the effect of salt on blood pressure. Less than 10 percent of adult men and 1 percent of adult women get adequate potassium needed for healthy blood pressure. Blood pressure is directly related to the balance of sodium and potassium in the blood. Americans may be consuming more sodium than they think because 75 percent of sodium is consumed from processed and fast foods and only 5 to 10 percent from added salt.One teaspoon of table salt (about 6 grams of sodium chloride) equals 2400 milligrams of sodium, so the amount of sodium we’re talking about at 1,500 milligrams equals about 2/3 teaspoon of table salt. These amounts include all salt consumed—salt that is in food products, used in cooking, and added at the table.

Only small amounts of sodium occur naturally in food. Processed foods account for most of the salt and sodium Americans consume. Be sure to read food labels to choose products lower in sodium.

Here are some tips to reduce salt or sodium in your diet:

  • Use reduced sodium or no-salt-added products.
  • Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned with "no-salt-added" vegetables.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned, smoked, or processed types.
  • Limit cured foods (such as bacon and ham), foods packed in brine (such as pickles, pickled vegetables, olives, and sauerkraut), and condiments (such as MSG, mustard, horseradish, catsup, and barbecue sauce).
  • Use spices instead of salt. In cooking and at the table, flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar, or salt-free seasoning blends. Start by cutting salt in half.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta, and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt
  • Cut back on "convenience" foods. Frozen dinners, frozen pizzas, packaged mixes like macaroni and cheese, stuffing mix, scalloped potatoes, pasta meals, canned soups and broths often have a lot of sodium.
  • It’s easy to adopt the DASH eating plan. Here are some ways to get started:

    Change gradually.

  • If you now eat one or two vegetables a day, add a serving at lunch and another at dinner. Use fresh, frozen, or no-salt-added canned vegetables.
  • If you don't eat fruit now or have only juice at breakfast, add a serving to your meals, or have it as a snack.
  • Gradually increase your use of fat-free and low-fat dairy products to three servings a day. Drink milk with lunch or dinner, instead of soda, sugar-sweetened tea, or alcohol.
  • Read food labels on margarines and salad dressings to choose those lowest in saturated fat and trans fat. Some margarines are now trans-fat free.
  • Treat meat as one part of the whole meal, instead of the focus.

  • Limit meat to 6 ounces a day (2 servings)—all that’s needed. Three to four ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.
  • If you now eat large portions of meat, cut them back gradually—by a half or a third at each meal.
  • Include two or more vegetarian-style (meatless) meals each week.
  • Increase servings of vegetables, rice, pasta, and dry beans in meals. Try casseroles and pasta, and stir-fry dishes, which have less meat and more vegetables, grains, and dry beans.
  • Use fruits for desserts and snacks. Fresh fruits require little or no preparation. Dried fruits are handy for snacking at work, school or in the car.
  • Munch on unsalted pretzels or nuts mixed with raisins; graham crackers; lowfat and fat free yogurt and frozen yogurt; popcorn with no salt or butter added; and raw vegetables.
  • Source: The DASH Eating Plan, May 2003, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

    DASH Eating Plan Available from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:
    Mail: NHLBI Health Information Center - P.O. Box 30105 Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
    301-592-8573 or 240-629-3255 (TTY)

    Access your free credit reports

    Sherron Hancock, MS
    Consumer & Family Economics Specialist

    A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

    There are three nationwide consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. You can get a free report from each of these three reporting agencies. The free credit reports became available to consumers in the Midwest, including Missouri, on March 1, 2005.

    Credit reports contain information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested or filed bankruptcy.

    To get a free credit report, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address.

    To maintain security of your file, each consumer reporting company may ask for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask for different information because the information each agency has in your file may come from different sources.

    Here’s why you should obtain a copy of your credit report:

  • Information in your credit report affects your ability to get a loan. It also helps determine how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
  • Your credit report may contain incorrect information. Checking your credit report ensures that accurate information will be available when you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
  • Checking your credit report helps to guard against identity theft. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then when the identity thieves don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. By obtaining your free credit report annually from each of the credit reporting companies, you will discover any problems and be able to correct them.
  • Consumer reporting companies must investigate inaccurate information, usually in 30 days, unless they consider a dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data about the inaccuracy that you provide to the organization that provided the information.

    If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.

    Getting the reports each year will allow you to review your reports and determine the accuracy of the report. While there is no fee for the credit report, there is a fee to get your credit score.

    You may access your report in three ways:

  • Phone: Call 877-322-8228.
  • Web: Visit
  • Mail: Request a packet of information, including a form to be filled out for mailing, by contacting your local University of Missouri Extension office. (See contact information on page 4 of this newsletter.)

    Return to the Life Times Newsletter main page

    University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller