Select the right tree for the location by considering the following: What is the purpose of the tree: screening, wind reduction, shade, or a prominent landscape feature (shape, color, flowers, size)? Is the ground saturated or dry most of the time? How much sunlight or shade is present? Is there enough room for growth to maturity? See ‘Choosing the Right Tree to Plant’ article.
Select a healthy tree: Look at leaf color and size; branch structure (avoid broken, crossing & rubbing, dead & dying branches); trunk problems (cracks or sunscald); girdling & circling roots, planting depth, etc. You should be able to see a trunk flair where it meets the soil.
Dig the hole correctly: Dig the hole 2-3 times the width of the root ball. Leave a pedestal for the root ball to sit on; the top of the root ball should be a couple of inches higher than the surrounding ground level. Adage: “Plant them high, they never die; plant them low, they never grow”.
Plant the tree: Only use existing soil as backfill (don’t use amendments). Remove wire baskets, burlap (even if it’s biodegradable), ropes, etc. If necessary, stake the tree outside the root ball (for example, if the tree has a thick crown). If stakes are used, they should be removed after one year. The tree will develop a stronger trunk and have nice taper if it is allowed to move freely with the wind.
Mulch: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of woodchip mulch, away from the trunk, as far out over the future root system, as possible. Plant trees together in shared mulch beds, but be sure to allow for mature growth.
Watch our Tree Planting video to learn more.Paul Martin