How to Prepare for Work

Tree planting is rigorous and physically demanding outdoor work that takes place in all types of weather. You must be adequately prepared if you are to have a safe and productive planting season.


Some equipment and items you may be required to supply include:

  • camping equipment
    - such as a sleeping bag
    - mattress
    - tent or camper

  • basic toiletry items
    - soap and shampoo
    - bath towels
    - razors
    - shave cream
    - other personal hygiene items.

Check on the accommodations provided so you know the right equipment to bring.


Physical conditioning is essential in preparing yourself for the physical demands of tree planting. Workers who are fit can plant more trees with fewer injuries, and are better able to plant for the entire season. Your physical condition at the beginning of the season will directly affect your productivity.

To ensure you are in the physical condition needed for a safe and productive season, an exercise program such as the following is recommended prior to start of the tree planting season:

General conditioning

Exercises should include:

  • aerobic/cardio-vascular training such as running, biking or hiking
  • overall strength training with free weights or resistance machines
  • stretching to ensure flexibility and prevention of muscle stiffness.
Specific "planting" exercises

Your conditioning program should include the following:

  • wrist roll-up to strengthen the wrist and forearm

  • barbell wrist curls to strengthen the wrist and forearm

  • triceps push-downs to strengthen the elbow and triceps

  • leg extensions to strengthen the knees

  • squats, leg presses or lunges to strengthen the legs

  • back strengthening exercises such as cable rows, bent leg dead lifts or cleans.

Clothing and Equpment

You will be required to provide the following protective equipment and clothing in good condition:

  • clothing suitable for outdoor work including:
    - good quality, durable rain gear
    - long sleeved shirts
    - long pants (loose fitting to allow for free movement)

  • gloves that provide good grip on tools (plastic mesh) and rubber gloves

  • safety footwear (leather or other appropriate materials, caulked boots)*

  • hard hat* (high visibility, orange or blue).

    * You are required to provide these items according to the health and safety regulations. In some situations the employer may provide these items. In most cases, you will be required to supply them.

The employer must provide:

  • whistle or other signaling device to summon assistance

  • helmet for worker operating an all-terrain vehicle

  • gloves (rubberized) for protection from harmful chemicals.

  • eye protection for workers on sites with thick brush or slash cover

  • hearing protection for workers required to operate a chain saw or other noisy equipment

  • chain saw leg protection for workers using a chain saw

  • pressure bandage or personal first aid kit, when you are assigned to work alone, more than 20 minutes from first aid supplied by your employer

  • high-visibility vests for workers working around moving equipment.


The basic planting tools are the shovel and planting bag. Most employers do not provide these items and you will be expected to show up for work properly equipped. Below are some examples of the types of tools that you may need:

There are three common spade types:


Planting Bag

A. The Tree Planter spade is the most popular shovel available for planting plugs, 1-, 2-, and 3-year-old bareroot seedlings with roots up to 25 cm long. The minimum blade length is 27 cm.

B. The Speed spade is strictly used to plant plug stock seedlings. The minimum blade length is 24 cm.

C. The Spear is used to plant seedlings in rocky ground enabling planters to locate more plantable spots per hectare. The minimum blade length is 21 cm. :

Remember, light tools are more desirable than heavy tools.