How To Properly Plant Your Tree

So, you’ve chosen a new tree to become part of your landscape. Now it’s time to plant it. Most trees and plants come with planting instructions but in the case that it hasn’t, or you’ve lost them, we’re here to save your day.

Planting a new tree should ideally take place during the dormant season. Either in the fall after the leaves have dropped or in the spring before the buds break. These cooler conditions allow time for roots to establish before rain and heat of summer force new growth.

Before planting your tree, there are several things to consider. Knowing how tall and wide your new tree will become is very important. When looking around your yard consider sidewalks, powerlines or below ground utilities and hazards. You’ll also want to consider your own conveniences in terms of clean up, shade and your views. Proper tree placement can enhance property values, prevent damages to your property and reduce your need for tree maintenance in the future.

It’s still not time to plant. You need to get your utilities located. This part is simple. Call Diggers Hotline at 811 or file a locate request online. It’s a free service to you and can prevent having to pay costly damages should you injure a line while digging. Cable, electric, phone and gas can all run under ground and you don’t want to be anywhere near them while digging. It can take up to three business days to get your property located so call ahead!

Unfortunately, Diggers Hotline only locates publicly installed utilities (i.e. the electric company itself came out and ran the power from the box to your house). So, if you have any personally installed lines (i.e. you called an electrician and had them run electric from your house to your new shed), you’ll have to mark these yourself. If you don’t know where these lines are located, call a privately-owned locating company to find them for you. Don’t forget to mark any septic, watering systems or buried propane lines.

Now it’s time to plant!

  1. Dig a hole 2-3 times wider but only as deep as the root ball of your new tree. The hole should have sloping sides, like a saucer, for proper root growth.
  2. Remove the tree from its container and inspect the roots. If they seem to be circling or root-bound, straighten them or cut an X in the bottom to free them.
  3. Place the tree in the hole. Ensure that the root flare at the base of the tree is above the soil line.
  4. Straighten the tree in the hole. You don’t want a crooked tree! Inspect it from all sides to be sure you have it standing upright.
  5. Fill the hole. Pack the soil around the root ball to stabilize it, then fill in the rest of the hole. Firmly pack it down to ensure there’s no trapped air, which can dry out the roots. Water periodically while backfilling to remove any remaining air and provide water to the shocked roots.
  6. Avoid fertilization. Fertilizer can actually kill a young tree.
  7. Add 2-3 inches of mulch around the tree, creating a berm, to hold moisture and reduce grass and weed growth. Keep the mulch about 12-18 inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and root girdling.
  8. Water the tree. New trees require 6- 8 gallons of water per week! So get out that sprinkler or hose and water away!

Now that your new tree is successfully planted, all that’s left to do is let it grow and enjoy (and try not to hit it with a weedwhacker!).


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