How to Plant a Tree

It can be tempting to plant trees the easy way - pick a spot, dig a hole, and place the tree. However, your investment might not make it through the spring or summer months. It’s best to do your research and get the planting process right the first time.

Do Your Research

The first thing you need to do is determine the purpose of planting a tree. Not every tree you choose has to have a purpose, but it makes sense to have an idea in mind when picking out the right type of tree to get. Do you want a tree for shade, privacy, wind breakage, to grow fruit, or simply one that looks beautiful? It could be a good idea to make a list of different trees that would fulfill the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish.

A deciduous tree is one that loses its leaves in the fall. Many deciduous trees provide shade during the warm summer months and allow the sun to warm the home during the winter months, depending on the location. A thick evergreen tree with persistent foliage provides a good windbreak or a screen for privacy. It could be a good idea to make a list of different trees that would fulfill the purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish. Those are just a few of the benefits of planting various trees for different functions.

The next step is deciding the location which is extremely important, especially when you want it to have a certain function as mentioned above. Wherever you choose to plant, you need to make sure that the site conditions are ideal for the tree you choose. Most trees grow well in direct sunlight, while others grow better in light shaded areas, and very few trees flourish in dense shade.

The amount of wind your property receives is also an important factor. High wind levels can uproot newly placed trees and even dry out the soil. Finding the right tree that can flourish in your specific landscape is critical to making the most out of your investment. Large healthy trees can increase property value and can make any outdoor surrounding area look more pleasant.

The Planting Process

After you have purchased your tree, it’s time to plant. Make sure the planting site is clear of power lines and has enough space around it for it to grow outward and upward over the years. Instead of placing the tree right next to the house, plant it further away to give it the chance to fully grow.

Also make sure that there are no underground lines that could endanger you while planting. Break up or cultivate the soil in a circular area around the location where the tree is to be planted. First, dig a hole that's approximately 2x the depth and diameter of the plant's container. Remove and discard grass and weeds from the planting site. Then break up and the soil around the hole so that it's loose.

Gently remove the tree from it’s container and loosen any outside roots around the sides and bottom of the root ball, making sure not to damage it. This will allow the roots to have an easier time growing into the new soil. Some trees will come with burlap tied around the base of the tree trunk holding in the rootball. These are called balled and burlap trees. When planting a tree like this, put the tree in the hole with the burlap on it. Once in the hole, cut the string attaching the burlap to the base of the trunk. Peel back the burlap from the top of the rootball and lay in the hole. Doing so will keep the rootball in tact when planting, the roots will be able to penetrate the burlap below it, and the burlap will biodegrade over time.

Place the root ball inside the hole. In order to get the right height for the tree, backfill the hole with a mixture of dirt removed from the hole and a fine, well-draining top soil or fertilized planting soil. Sphagnum peat moss can be used to help achieve better drainage and manure/compost can be added in to help fertilize the tree. A good rule of thumb to make sure your tree is at the right depth is to make sure the root crown (the base of the tree) is around 1½” - 2” higher than ground level. If the tree has trouble standing on its own, then stakes should be added or kept on to help the tree grow upright. If it’s sturdy enough to hold itself up, then it doesn't not need to be re-staked.

However if it does, the stakes should be placed in the ground about 18” from the base on opposite sides of the tree. Attach tree tape to the stakes and tape loosely around the tree. The ties should be loose enough to allow the tree to move back and forth slightly in high wind. After planting, make sure it’s watered thoroughly to allow the roots to get established and to settle the soil.

If you have any questions about what tree is right for you and the purpose you’re looking for, as well as tree planting, feel free to contact us! We’d be happy to help you!