Planting new trees is an investment in your property, so it’s important to take all the necessary steps to get the job done right. If you do, you’ll be rewarded with a more beautiful landscape, shade from the summer heat, and even increased property values. In this guide to planting trees, you’ll find tips on how to plant trees from the Certified Arborists at Rick’s Plant Health Care (learn more: why hire an arborist).
Carefully Time Your Tree Planting
Early spring and fall are the best times of the year to plant new trees. Don’t plant trees right before a week-long vacation—your trees will need some TLC just after planting, so plan on adding them to your yard at a time when you’ll be available to care for them properly. Even if you ask someone else to do the watering for you, you never know if they’ll forget, and the last thing you want is to come home to hundreds of dollars worth of dying trees.
Buy High Quality Nursery Stock
We recommend skipping the big box stores and supporting local nurseries here in our community. Not only do these nurseries carry higher quality stock, they’re also full of knowledgeable staff who can help you understand the best trees for your property, the amount of care they need, and how to avoid common tree planting problems.
Before you make your purchase, take a good look at the tree. Inspect for the central leader, damaged limbs or trunk, insects, and signs of disease.
Prepare the Tree and Planting Site
You should plan on planting your tree shortly after purchasing it, preferably the same day, if possible. Remove burlap and wire baskets before planting and loosen the roots around the root ball.
The hole you dig should be the same depth as the root ball, but a little more than twice as wide. Once planted, the root collar should be exposed, with the flare at the bottom of the trunk at grade, not underground. Amend the soil you’ve removed with compost or garden soil; place the tree in the hole, then fill in around the root ball with the amended soil.
Clear Excess Soil and Prune
Take another look and make absolutely sure that you’ve cleared any excess soil around the base to expose the root flare. Next, prune out any girdling roots. This is one of the biggest challenges we see on every property; if you didn’t plant your trees yourself, check the work of your landscaper to make sure they took these steps.
Just like people, most trees don’t like to be parched! This is even more important right after planting. Watering is also important for establishing trees because deep watering helps guide the roots downwards, deep into the soil; shallow watering encourages the roots to stay closer to the surface, which isn’t desirable.
Water new trees immediately after planting, saturating the soil completely, and continue to water two to three times a week during the first month, adjusting as needed during stretches of rainy weather or droughts. To keep the soil around your tree moist, add mulch, being careful not to mound it against the trunk.
Plan an Inspection and Deep Root Feeding
A deep root feeding scheduled for the first fall after planting a new tree is an excellent way to protect your investment. Hire a Certified Arborist to ensure the treatment is done correctly—there’s a difference between arborist and tree service. It’s also a good idea to call an arborist to inspect your trees after they’ve been planted. In our experience, trees coming from nurseries often have insect infestations or poor planting practices, but owners often call us only once these issues have taken their toll. A preemptive inspection can save you money—and save your trees!
Learn More About How to Plant Trees
Contact Rick’s Plant Health Care today to schedule a residential tree inspection or consultation for more tips on how to plant trees and tree planting problems.