Home > Green Home Tips, Lawn & Garden > How To Plant a Tree - DIY Central

How To Plant a Tree

National Arbor Day is April 24th. It is a day to celebrate our nation’s forests by planting a tree. Last year, Arbor Day Foundation members planted over 8 million trees nationwide. Planting trees may seem like a foolproof task but paying attention to the planting details is what ensures a healthy, growing tree.

Learn how to plant trees successfully and celebrate Arbor Day

Learn how to plant trees successfully and celebrate Arbor Day

You can obtain tree seedlings or young stock from most nurseries, garden centers, or tree farms. They typically come as bare root trees, balled and burlapped trees, or containerized trees. No matter how they come packaged, there are certain common planting procedures to them all and certain processes that are peculiar to each type. No matter which type you buy, allow plenty of room for the tree to grow to maturity. Take into consideration such things as sunlight, exposure to weather, proximity to buildings, location of underground utilities, sidewalks and pavements.

Bare Root Trees

  1. Remove the tree from its packaging.
  2. Soak the tree roots in room temperature water for 3 to 6 hours.
  3. Clear all the grass from the proposed planting location.
  4. Till the ground in a 3 foot radius with a roto-tiller or by hand.
  5. Cover the roots of the tree and keep them cool and moist until planting.
  6. Place the tree in the center of the hole and support it.
  7. Backfill the hole with the original dirt making sure the root collar is at or just above ground level.
  8. Tamp the soil gently to eliminate all air pockets as you backfill.
  9. Form a small basin around the tree for water and water it generously.
  10. Finally, mulch around the base of the tree with garden bark, sawdust, or woodchips.

Balled and burlapped trees

  1. Prepare a large hole at least 2 to 3 times as large as the root ball and as deep. Make sure it is at least 10-12 inches deep.
  2. The sides of the hole should slope outward somewhat.
  3. The root collar should be at or just above ground level. Fill in the hole a little, if necessary, to make certain the root collar is positioned correctly.
  4. Remove the burlap by cutting it and removing the nails that hold it in place. This is especially important if the burlap material is vinyl or treated.
  5. Backfill the hole with original soil a little at a time, packing it firmly to remove all air pockets.
  6. Form a basin around the tree for watering.
  7. Water the tree generously.
  8. Mulch around the tree with bark, sawdust, woodchips, or lawn clippings.

Containerized trees

  1. Remove the tree from the container, being careful to keep the soil intact.
  2. Tap the sides and bottom of the container to safely remove the tree.
  3. Inspect the root system of the tree. If it appears to be root-bound, cut the bottom of the root system with a sharp knife 2 or 3 times and slice into the sides of the root system vertically at least 4 times in different locations.
  4. Place the tree in the center of the prepared hole.
  5. Backfill the hole using the same procedure, always tamping the dirt to make sure all air pockets are eliminated.
  6. Provide a basin around the tree for watering.
  7. Water the tree generously.
  8. Mulch the tree with the same materials as the other types of tree packaging.


Support balled and burlapped trees by the ball when moving them. Do not move the tree by its trunk alone.

The root collar of the tree is the spot on the trunk where the roots begin. Make sure this point is always at or above ground level.

Always keep mulch at least 4 inches away from the tree trunk itself.

Prune dead, broken, or tangled branches when planting the tree.

Water the tree at least once a week, every week to promote optimum growth.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , , , ,

Discuss this and other Home Improvement Topics in our How To Forum