Planting Tips

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Tree Planting Tips (WikiHow)

  1. Decide where you want to plant it and mark it. Once you've had a chance to look at your land and think about what your goal is, you can decide on a spot to plant your tree. Mark this spot with a bright and wide circle.
    1. Make sure to take things like power lines, the location of your house and driveway, as well as other trees into consideration so that the roots don't damage your property as they grow.
    2. Use a special marking paint to mark your spot. These containers have a special nozzle so that you can spray them upside down.
  2. Measure the root ball. Before you start digging the hole to plant your tree, measure the plant's root ball. This will tell you how deep you need to dig the hoe.
    1. At this point you can remove the burlap that is around the root flare, or where the roots connect to the trunk.
    2. Using a cultivator or garden trowel, remove the top layer of soil from the root ball.
    3. Remove only enough soil to expose the root flare.
    4. Measure the height and width of the root ball, from the ground to the top of the exposed root flare, and from one side to the other.
  3. Prepare the hole for the tree. Using a shovel, dig the hole in which you'll plant your tree. You want to make sure that it is large enough to accommodate the tree's size and give it plenty of room to grow and take root.
    1. Dig a hole that is 2-3 wider and about as deep than the root ball. This will give the tree enough room to fit and allow fresh roots to grow without stress.
    2. Try to dig the hole with a small "pedestal" of dirt in the center of the hole where the tree will rest. The hole should be a little deeper around the edges but there should be a pedestal of dirt in the center where the root ball sits. This pedestal prevents the root ball from sitting continuously in water. Any excess water will naturally flow to the deeper areas of the hole around the edges where the roots can drink from if needed.
    3. Measure the hole to see if it is wide and deep enough. If necessary, dig out more soil to reach the desired depth and width.
    4. Put a light coating of superphosphate in the hole to promote a healthy root system.
  4. Place the tree into the hole gently. The time has finally come to plant your tree. After you've carefully prepared the hole, place the tree gently into its new home. If it doesn't fit, remove it and adjust the size of the hole.
    1. Be sure the hole isn't too deep or too shallow. The ground level of the plant should match up with the ground level after you backfill the hole.
    2. Do not bury over where the stem changes to root, also called the crown, or leave any roots exposed.
    3. You can place the handle of your shovel flat across the hole from one side to the other to measure whether the crown is level with the surrounding soil before filling in the hole
  5. Position the tree. When the tree is in the hole, identify its best face and turn it in the direction you want. Taking this step will make sure that you can enjoy how the tree looks and also make sure your tree has its best face forward.
    1. Remove any burlap from the tree's roots at this stage.
    2. Make sure you position the tree as upright as possible. How you position the tree will affect how it grows in later years for years.
    3. Consider using a level to measure if you've positioned the tree upright. You can also ask a friend or family member to see if the tree is positioned perfectly upright.
    4. Use stakes to help the tree grow upright if necessary.
  6. Backfill the hole. Using a mixture of compost and the soil you dug out while you prepared the hole, backfill (or refill) the hole. Make sure you have enough soil to support the roots while giving them room to grow.
    1. Backfill three quarters of the hole with existing dirt, one quarter with compost or composted manure as needed.
    2. It's important to make sure that there are no air pockets around the roots as you backfill the hole. In order to get rid of any air pockets that might be present, backfill only part of the hole and then lightly tamp it down with your hands or the shovel. Do this for subsequent layers.
    3. When tamping down backfill, make sure to proceed gently and also not use your feet because you could trample the roots.
    4. Use some compost or composted manure, if needed. If the soil that you currently have is not rich, has clay-like qualities or has the consistency of dust or sand, the addition of manure or compost will give the tree a great start in life.
    5. If the compost or manure smells, it hasn't been properly composted and shouldn't be used because it can "burn" your tree.
  7. Stake the tree if necessary. If your tree is still a sapling, use a stake to help it grow for about the first year of its life This will keep the tree from blowing over in the wind and allow the roots to become established.
    1. Make sure the stakes you are tied loosely to the trunk. Do not dig into the bark or tighten around the trunk.
    2. Remove the stakes once the roots have a chance to become established, after about a year.
    3. Larger trees may need two or three stakes


Water the newly planted tree. Once the tree is planted, water it and keep up a regular schedule of watering. This will help the roots become established in the surrounding soil.

  • Water the tree every day for several weeks to let the roots get established. After this, you can reduce the frequency of watering.
  • Water as necessary for the conditions in your area. Take into consideration humidity, rainfall, and sunshine to help you decide when to water your tree.
  • If you are planting fruit or nut trees for a small home orchard, continue to water weekly for the life of the tree, as your crop depends on consistent irrigation. You'll also want to fertilize fruit and nut trees monthly, or according to package directions.

Use mulch. Considering adding a layer of mulch around your tree to help keep moisture in and weeds out.

  • Cover the planting hole with 1-3 inches (2.5 cm - 7.6 cm) of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. Keep the mulch at least 12 inches away from the trunk or it may cause the trunk to rot.
  • Mulching around the tree will protect the tree from trampling and lawnmowers, which are two activities that commonly kill young trees.

Prune the tree if necessary. If there are any broken, dead, or diseased limbs on your tree, remove them gently with a knife or gardening shears. If there is nothing wrong with the tree, there is no need to prune it until after the first growing season.

You'll need to make sure that you water your plant to keep it thriving. You want to achieve a balance of giving it enough water to penetrate the roots while not drowning it.  Watering your tree with a steady stream from a garden hose for about 30 seconds should be sufficient. The soil should feel moist at all times and mulch will help retain the moisture.  Check soil moisture by digging about 2" below the surface and then use your finger to test if soil is moist. If it is, you don't need to water.