BROOKLYN — Dozens of  volunteers who helped plant more than 1,800 young trees and shrubs at the Salt Marsh Nature Center in Marine Park learned that the task requires a gentle touch but a firm hand.

“This is a pretty traumatic experience for the tree, going from being watered and fed by nursery caretakers to being in the ground and having to live off the land,” said Philip Kunhardt, a Parks Department forester, who guided volunteers in breaking up roots and soil from their firm pot shapes.

“We want to be careful with them, but we also want to give them some tough love.”