How to Plant a Tree
Steps for Proper Tree Planting and Care
Tree planting gives your property more to look at and also helps the environment. Whether your planting a tree for fun, or planting for a specific reason, you will need to know how to properly plant a tree so that it grows healthy and strong. While planting a tree may seem like just digging a hole and throwing the tree in it, there is a lot more to it to ensure that the tree grows properly. If you are set on growing and maintaining a healthy tree, read these steps.
Select when you want to plant your tree - Do not plant a tree in late spring or during summer. The tree will be trying to get its roots used to the new soil and the extra heat will dehydrate and stress out the tree which could cause it to die. The best time to plant is during the fall or early spring.
Choose the area where you will plant your tree - Picking the area where you will plant your tree is difficult. You want to pick an area where there is a lot of space and there are no power lines, or foundations near the area where you will be planting. At the same time, you want the place where you plant the tree be a spot where everyone can see the work you are doing and have it compliment your yard. Pick a spot but be mindful of your surroundings.
Choose a tree to plant - You want to pick a tree that will survive and stay healthy in the environment you are about to place it in. You also want a tree that will look good and compliment your yard. Talk with the arborist you buy the tree from about what type of tree is best for your yard. In addition you don't want to purchase a tree that is unhealthy. Make sure the tree you are about to buy has bright colored leaves, good bark, and is completely free from disease or infection. A young, healthy tree has a better chance of surviving in its new environment.
Prepare the hole - Dig a hole that is about four to five times wider than the root ball. This will help the roots expand on their own and it will create looser soil so water can get to the roots easier. You want to dig the hole so the base of the trunk is above ground about a fourth or a half an inch. This keeps the trunk exposed at all times and prevents rotting. While digging the hole you also want to create a pedestal that ensures water won't collect at the bottom under the ball of roots. This could cause the tree to drown.
Prepare the tree to be planted - Remove the tree from its pot, or cut away the burlap sack holding the roots in place. If there is a wire root basket there is no need to remove that because the roots will just grow around it. Do not remove any dirt from the root ball and leave the tree out from its root ball or pot only for a short period of time because the sun or wind can dry out its roots.
Place the tree into the hole - Very gently put your tree into the hole on top of the pedestal you created. You want to make sure that the trunk is completely above ground and that no roots will be exposed above ground. It is very important that the hole is the proper height otherwise the tree will rot. You can use your shovel to test how even the tree is with rest of the ground.
Fill in the hole - Fill the hole three quarters of the way full by using the dirt you dug out of the hole to fill it back in. For the last quarter use compost (NOT fertilizer) to fill in the hole. The compost will provide great nutrients and help your tree grow much faster and healthier.
Water your tree - Water the tree one gallon for every six inches of tree height evenly around the base. Wait about an hour or so for the water and dirt to settle and put the rest of the dirt you dug out of the hole back around the base of the tree making sure that the trunk is still exposed. Water the tree again but not to much to ensure that the tree doesn't drown.
Mulch - After the water has settled use organic bark or leaf mulch to fill in the dirt circle where the hole used to be. There should be one to three inches of mulch height to ensure that weeds don't grow in the circle. Make sure to keep around two inches of space between the mulch and the trunk of the tree or else the tree will rot.
Stake and Water - Wait about an hour after you have mulched and come back to water the tree one last time. After you water the tree it is time to stake it so that it grows upright and wind doesn't knock it over. Put four stakes evenly around it and use rope or wire to attach the trunk to the stake so that the tree won't fall over. Do not tie the rope or wire to tightly around the trunk so that it has room to grow.
Keep watering weekly - Water once a week during the summer for the first few years so that the tree can get its roots established. Watch out for over watering your tree. Check the ground and make sure it is moist at all times, not soggy. Soggy dirt can drown the tree killing it before it ever gets started growing.