How to Plant: Step by Step Summary
Recommended Equipment to plant your tree:
- A shovel and a rake
- A pick ax if your soil is compacted
- A bag of mulch (usually 3 cubic feet)
- A bag or two of topsoil (only for very rocky or infertile soils)
- A source of clean water
Step 1: Mark ItPick the best spot for your tree according to its cultural requirements. Remove an area of turf at least two to three times the width of the root ball.
Step 2: Can Ya’ Dig It?Dig the hole with sloping sides as shown in the diagram. The hole should be two to three times the width of the root ball. The hole should be the same depth of the soil in the container or, in the case of a B&B tree, the height of the root ball, never deeper.
Remove or cut away the container just before the tree is put in the hole. Be sure to cut any circling roots. Move the tree by the root ball, not the trunk. Minimize the time that the roots are exposed to air and direct sunlight. Remove the wire basket now if the root ball will remain intact. If not, place the tree in the planting hole and remove as much as possible without breaking up the root ball.
Step 3: Remove The Container
Set the root ball in the hole and adjust it until the ‘best’ side faces the direction you want and the top of the root ball is about one inch above the surrounding soil level. . A straight stick or shovel handle laid across the hole will help you decide if adjustment is needed. Be careful not to plant too deep! If you have a B&B tree now is the time to cut away any strings from around the trunk and to fold back the top 1/3 of the burlap down into the planting hole. Also remove any tags or labels.
Step 4: Plant It
Use the soil that you removed from the hole to back-fill around the root ball. If the soil is full of rocks, remove the larger rocks over 2”-3”. Break up any chunks of soil. If the soil is very poor mix it with good topsoil. Do not use other amendments such as peat or compost.
Step 5: Fill The Hole
When the hole is 2/3 full fill it with water and mix the mud with your shovel to settle the soil and remove any air pockets. Finish back-filling the hole and tamp the soil around the root ball but do not compact it.
Step 6: Water In
Put a three inch layer of mulch around the tree. Mulch helps to keep grass out, saves water and keeps lawn equipment such as string trimmers from damaging the thin bark of the young tree. Do not pile mulch up on the tree trunk.
Step 7: Mulch
Stakes and wide soft ties should be used only when the tree can’t stand by itself. When used this support should be removed after one year or less.
Step 8: Stake
For more planting and the details of planting we recommend the Tree Care Planting Section of the web site which is also obtainable through our Bowling Green Community Tree Board Advisory web site menu located on your left.