Planting a new tree does not have to be difficult or confusing. Trees are often a welcome addition to any home or garden and with so many buying options available today homeowners can have the trees that they want most. But there are a few things to watch out for when planting a tree. Here are some suggestions on how to plant your tree.
If you are planting a bare root tree, we suggest you read our article on that subject. For other types of trees, read on.
For the most part, trees can be planted just about any time of the year. The only exception is if the ground is frozen.
Planting in late months of summer or early fall is the best time to plant trees in most areas of the US. This allows the root system to get a solid growth pattern going before the winter sets in.
The second best option for tree planting is in the late winter or early spring. Whenever possible, try to avoid planting in hot summer weather. Likewise, planting in the frozen soil during the winter should be avoided.
Typically, when you buy a new tree the roots are either in a container, balled up or burlap covered. You can also find new trees with the roots exposed, this is called bare root.
Trees that come with the roots in a container are generally the easiest to plant, and they will often do better in establishing their roots during any season. With these types of trees, the tree has been growing in the container for some period of time already. Because of this, little damage is done to the roots as the plant is transferred to the soil.
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Balled and burlap trees are usually dug out from a tree nursery, wrapped in burlap, and kept in the nursery for some period of time. This allows the roots to regenerate. These trees are usually the larger variety. As a side note, bare root trees are usually extremely small.
To plant ball or burlap trees, follow these suggestions:
- Find a location for your new tree. Before you begin digging, however, make sure you are not digging above any underground utilities. If your tree will grow to be large, make sure it is not too close to the house or other buildings on the property.
- Once it is safe to dig, make a hole twice as wide as the root ball. The depth needs to be less than the depth of the ball. Loosen up the soil on the sides and bottom of the hole so the roots can easily penetrate when they begin to spread out.
- If you are planting a potted tree, gently remove the tree from the container. Place the tree on its side so that the container end is close to the hole. Tap the bottom and the sides of the container. This will cause the ball to loosen.
If roots are growing in a circular pattern around the root ball, you may need to cut through the roots on a couple of sides.
If your tree is wrapped in burlap, remove the string and remove the burlap. The plastic wrap must always be completely removed. Once the material is gone, gently separate any twisted up roots on the root ball.
- Now you can gently put the root ball into the hole. Make sure that you leave the top of the root ball (where the roots end and the trunk begins) about one inch above the surrounding soil. It is important that you not set your tree too deep into the soil. As you add soil to fill in the hole, firm up the soil so that it is tight but not overly tight.
- Make a little water basin around the tree using the soil as a burn. This will allow moisture to seep down to the roots. A tree with a dry root ball simply will not absorb water; if the root ball that you planted was extremely dry, set your hose there on trickle and let water get down to the root ball.
- Mulch around the tree. A 3-foot diameter circle of mulch is common, see mulch supply near me.
- You may need to add some stakes to your tree to keep it upright and to help support the root system. Once your tree is established, remove the stakes and wires. Leaving them on as the tree grows can harm the trunk and may kill the tree.