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How to Plant a Tree

Trees are notoriously hardy, depending on the type of tree of course. There are a few things you can do before even planting your tree in the soil to give your tree the best start to life possible.

Choosing the Right Location For Your Tree

There are a few things to consider when looking for the best spot to plant your tree. How big will your tree grow? Are you intending to create a shady area or is your tree purely decorative?

Ensure you are considering the full height of the tree at maturity when choosing a spot to plant and not the size of the tree at planting. Although your tree may fit perfectly in a spot when it’s small, as it grows it might get a little too close to overhanging power lines. It’s best to plant a tree somewhere it will have plenty of room to grow without the need for constant trimming. Constantly trimming your tree so it doesn’t reach any obstacles can give it a stunted appearance, so make sure to consider your surroundings when planting. your tree. 

Tree branches and roots will not want to be so close to your home or any other building either. Your tree needs plenty of room to grow, so a distance of at least 15 feet from the nearest building is recommended. This may seem like more space than your tree needs, especially if your tree is on the smaller side, but it’s important to remember that your tree’s roots need plenty of space to spread out and grow. If they don’t have a good amount of space, your tree may not be able to absorb nutrients correctly, which can eventually lead to a sick tree. 

The Best Time to Plant a Tree

Most trees can be planted year-round without issues. However, as a general rule, it’s best to plant a tree as far from summer as you can. Therefore, the best time of the year to plant a tree is during the fall. Winter is generally not advisable as depending on your area, the ground may be completely frozen and therefore impossible to dig a hole into. Planting your tree in spring is perfectly acceptable, but aim to plant towards the beginning of spring if possible.

Steps to Planting a Tree

Your tree will either have been grown in a container or grown directly into the ground. In the latter case, the tree will have had to be dug out of the ground and wrapped in a burlap sack for transportation to its new home. These are known as ball and burlap trees, or B&B trees. 

No matter the type of tree, you will need to ensure that you have dug a hole of an appropriate size. You’ll want your hole to be about three times the width of your tree’s current root mass. As for depth, take a look at your tree before your plan it. You should notice a section towards the base of the tree trunk where it flares out into its roots. You want to be able to see this small flare but not any of the tree’s actual roots, so use this as a guide when deciding the depth of your hole.

Planting a Container Tree

  1. Remove the tree from its container as gently as you can. 
  2. Lay the tree on its side and carefully loosen the root ball, examining the roots as you go. You may notice some roots are curling around on themselves, which can be common in container trees. If you see any curling/circling roots, prune them down to the point where they begin to curl.
  3. Remove any excess soil from the top of the root ball.
  4. Lift your tree by the root ball and gently place it in the hole. Depending on the size and weight of your tree, you may need some assistance lowering your tree into its hole.
  5. Ensure the tree is straight and fill any gaps in the hole with your soil. If you have mulch, use this as well. Don’t pack mulch right next to the base of your tree; instead, give about 3-4″ of breathing room.
  6. Water as recommended depending on the tree and you’re all done!

Planting a B&B Tree

  1. If there is a wire basket around the burlap sack of your tree, carefully remove it before unwrapping the burlap. Do not completely remove the burlap – you will need this to move your tree.
  2. Carefully remove any excess soil from the top of the root ball until you can find the tree flare.
  3. Lift the tree using the burlap sack and gently place it in the hole. 
  4. Now lean the tree to one side and tuck the free edge of the burlap sack under it. Lean the tree to the other side and remove the burlap sack entirely. You may need assistance to support the root ball during this process.
  5. Keep the tree straight and stabilized while you fill the hole with soil and mulch as required. Remember to leave your tree some breathing room around the trunk with mulch.
  6. Water it as recommended.

With your tree successfully planted, it’s important to keep an eye on it during the first few weeks for any sign that the tree is not taking to its new environment. As long as your tree has plenty of space and sunlight, there shouldn’t be any issues and you can enjoy your new tree.

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