How to Plant a Tree

Man using a shovel to plant a tree in a large hole surrounded by lawn
My Garden Life
April 22, 2019
Table of Contents

Diagram of How to Plant a Tree, Illustration

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How to Plant a Tree Grown in a Container

Proper planting will get your tree off to its best start. Here are the steps for how to plant a tree:

Step 1

Choose a location that will allow the roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Situate your tree away from building foundations, walls, decks, windows, and powerlines.

Step 2

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and two times as wide.

Step 3

Remove the tree from its container and place the root ball in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is at soil level.

Step 4

Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant and even with the surrounding soil surface.

Step 5

Gently tamp the soil around the tree to remove air pockets.

Step 6

Water the tree well and add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Continue to water regularly the first three years after planting, until the tree is well established.

Planting Balled and Burlapped Trees

The steps for planting a balled and burlapped tree are quite similar. The key difference is in making sure there are no obstacles that will restrict root growth surrounding the burlap.

Dogwood and arborvitae trees at a tree nursery grown in containers and balled and burlapped.

Once you’ve positioned the balled and burlapped root ball into the hole you’ll need to remove any bindings such as rope, twine, wire, or synthetic wrappings surrounding the burlap root ball. It’s okay to leave natural burlap in place as the roots should be able to penetrate the fabric and the burlap fabric will deteriorate over time.

Refill the planting hole following the same steps as if you were planting a tree grown in a container.

Don’t Forget to Remove Tree Tags

While it may be tempting to leave tags on a tree to identify its genus, species, or variety they can cause problems later. Particularly wire or any sort of synthetic twine, ribbon, or plastic ties that don’t degrade easily. As the branches grow these attachments can cut off circulation and impair growth to the point that it leads to the death of the branch.

Rows of young fruit trees with visitble plant labels at a tree nursery.

Learn More About How to Plant

If you’d like to know how to transplant other types of plants, then you can find more planting instructions here.

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