How To Plant A Tree

Posted by Mike Bowles on Jan 11, 2018 2:23:45 PM

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when selecting the type of tree, you’ll be installing:

  • Light – Is the spot you have in mind located in sun or shade?
  • Wind – Does the location tend to be windy or is it sheltered by your home or other trees?
  • Soil – Is your soil usually dry or does water stick around after a rain?

Check out the great resources available at if you’re having a hard time deciding what type of tree would be best for your yard.

Once you’ve selected the tree – it’s time to get planting! Make sure your tree gets off to the best possible start by giving the roots a great place to grow and expand!

This starts with DIGGING. The most important part of this step is not to dig the hole too deep. The proper depth will vary depending on the size and age of the tree you’ve selected. A good rule of thumb is to make the hole as deep as the root ball. Digging the hole too deep can cause problems for the tree. Too much soil on top of the root ball can be problematic. While digging, remove any debris like large rocks and hard clumps from the soil.


The width of the hole is another story. You want to be sure that there is enough space to pack soil around the root ball usually 6-8” wider than the root ball.  We recommend that you amend the soil prior to refilling the hole. There are many different types of organic matter available for this use. Products like LeafGro, Bumper Crop and compost work extremely well.  The best ratio to use is a 1-compost to 2-soil ratio.  It is very important that the compost is mixed in thoroughly.  Large pockets of compost around the roots could result in burning.  Remember, the compost is still breaking down which can produce some heat.


Putting your tree in place. Lift the tree into its new home by the root ball, not the trunk. Stand the tree upright in the center of the hole. Be sure to remove any ropes and burlap from around the trunk and the top of the root ball.  These things can cause wicking, drawing moisture from the root ball and if it is wrapped around the trunk for too long it could cause girdling of the trunk.

Exposing the trunk flare is very important. This can be done by removing any excess soil on top of the root ball. Too much soil on top of the root ball can cause things like trunk rot, girdling roots, and root suffocation. Using your newly created soil mix, fill the hole with approximately 3-4” then pack firm, making sure there are no air pockets. Repeat until the top level is even with collar of the root ball. **Remember to keep the trunk flare exposed, make sure that no new soil is placed on top of the root ball.  There will be excess soil left over from the planting.

The Finishing Touches – Edging, Staking and Mulching! Cutting an edge around the tree is important to define a bed if it is planted in the lawn. This will keep the mulch in place and keep the mowers and trimmers away from the tree.


When staking a tree, you need to get an idea of where the wind comes from so the stake can keep the tree straight and upright. If your house blocks the wind, then place the stakes parallel with the house for a more pleasing look.  We typically use arbor tie to attach the tree to the stake.  The stakes should be removed after a year, so the trunk doesn’t outgrow the arbor tie.

There are many different materials you can use for mulch. No matter what you choose, the most important thing to remember is to keep it thin on top of the root ball.   Mulch is not meant to insulate the root ball so thick applications and volcanoes are not needed.

One final piece of advice….Don’t forget to water!


Click the video below to see Mike walk through the proper way to plant a new tree. Demonstrating correct hole size, soil mixture, appropriate coverage of the root ball and staking.

Topics: Install Tree, Tree Installation