Planting a tree isn’t as simple as digging a hole and throwing the tree into it. You need to consider your land, the climate where you live, what plants are suitable to your local area. However, if you take the time to think about these factors, you will be able to successfully plant and enjoy a tree or trees for years to come!
Part One of Four:
Deciding What Kind of Tree to PlantEdit
1Consider your goal. Before you begin the process of planting a tree or trees, first consider your ultimate goal. Do you want to add a couple of trees to your property to give it greater curb appear and increase the value of your home? Or maybe you just want the pure enjoyment of seeing the tree grow and invite wildlife such as birds to sit on its branches. Knowing what you want in planting a tree will help you make the best decisions about everything from what kind of tree best suits your needs to where to plant it.
2Think about your local climate. You’ll need to think about the weather in your local area before planting a tree to make sure that you get a species that will survive and thrive in your garden or yard. Using the Plant Hardiness Zone scale can help not only identify your local climate, but also the best types of trees to plant.
- The Arbor Day Foundation offers a system of identifying climate for plants called the Plant Hardiness Zones. It divides the United States and Canada into 11 different zones that are based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature.
- The United States, for examples, is located within Zones 2 through 10.
- You can access the Plant Hardiness Zones at http://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup and then lookup the zone in which you fall.
- Knowing your zone will help you identify the types of trees and other plants that you can plant and expect to grow in the zone’s temperature extremes.
- Know that the Plant Hardiness Zones don’t account for local differences including moisture, soil, winds, and other conditions that could affect the survivability of individual plants.
3Consider your land. You’ll also want to consider the terrain on your property before you plant a tree. Factors such as slope, neighbors, drainage and erosion can have an impact on what trees will thrive on your land.
- For example, if you live on particularly hilly or steep land, it may not be a good idea to plant trees because their roots may not be able to take proper hold.
- If you’re planting a tree or trees to combat erosion, you’ll want to plant trees that already have a strong root ball so they don’t get swept away at the next rainfall or windstorm.
- Think about what kinds of other trees and plants are there so that the tree you plant not only fits in with the overall aesthetic scheme, but also that the tree has room to grow and won’t kill other plants and trees around it.
4Check local laws for digging holes and planting trees. Most communities will have zoning laws about trees and digging holes on properties within its borders. It’s important to check these laws to make sure that you are able to dig and plant trees. If not, the community may not only prevent you from planting the tree, but also force you to pay fines. .
- Zoning laws related to planting are often related to digging holes near telephone and electric poles and other cables. You'll need to make sure that you know where these cables and systems before you dig.
- You may also want to check with local utility companies about digging around their poles and cables so that you don’t disturb them or harm anyone when you plant or as the tree grows.
- In the United States, you can call 811 before you dig. This will get your underground utility lines marked for free, which will help to prevent damage, injury, and fines.
5Talk to a professional. If you have any questions or are unsure about something related to planting a tree, talk to a professional arborist in your area. Consulting with someone who understands your wishes and local conditions can help you find the best trees to plant.
- You can either go to a local nursery to find a professional arborist or use the Arbor Day Foundation’s search tool to help you find a professional arborist in your area. The search tool is located at http://www.arborday.org/trees/health/arborist.cfm .
6Buy your tree. After you’ve done the background work on your climate, land, and zoning laws, you’re ready to buy a tree to plant. Purchase a suitable tree for the region, climate, and your yard.
- Trees native to your area tend to do well, and you won't be introducing a potential invasive plant species. It will be easier to care for a tree that is already native to the area.
- You can find the best species of tree for your area. For example, if you live in northern Canada, planting a palm tree probably isn’t feasible. The Arbor Day Foundation can help you find the best tree for your area simply by putting in your zip code or Plant Hardiness zone into the search engine at http://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=tree-nursery .
- As a rule of thumb, plants with bare roots—those that are in burlap and not in a container—thrive much better than trees that are in containers.
Part Two of Four:
Preparing to Plant a TreeEdit
1Select the right time of year for planting the tree. You want to give your plant the best chance at growing and surviving. Planting at the right time of year is a key factor in this. Planting times will vary depending on the plant and where you live.
2You will usually want to plant your tree when it is dormant, or not flowering, during cooler or colder times of year. Again, this will vary depending on where you live.
- If you are not sure of the best time of year to plant your tree, consult your local University Extension Service or similar service. Each county in the United States has a University Extension Service and many countries, including India and Kenya, have them as well.
- If you are in the United States, you can locate your local University Extension Service using the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s interactive online map at http://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map .
3Prepare the tree for planting. Once you’ve purchased your tree, you need to prepare it for planting. This will help ensure that you’re planting the tree properly and that it will survive. The process is slightly different for a small tree and a large tree.
- If the tree is a sapling, turn it upside down gently to get it out of the container. If it is in burlap, wait to cut it off until you’ve planted the tree in the ground.
- If the tree is beyond the sapling stage, cut through its packaging. If it is in burlap, wait to cut it off until you’ve planted the tree in the ground.
- If there is a wire basket or wiring on your tree’s roots, remove it with wire cutters so that it doesn’t grow into the roots and kill the tree.
- Keep as much dirt around the roots as possible and don’t move it more than necessary to keep the roots from drying out.
- Don't leave a tree's roots out of its container or burlap for too long because this could damage or dry them out.
- If you’ve decided to plant a seed instead of an already growing tree, follow this step. Growing a tree from a seed means germinating the seed, planting it at the appropriate time and taking close care of it. This method will take than transplanting a tree from a container.
- To get a seed to germinate, you may have to use scarification. This means that you break the seed coat and allow moisture to penetrate so that the plant embryo can begin germinating.
- Once the seeds have germinated, plant them in an individual container or a seed tray. Move the trays or contains to a brighter location that is well ventilated.
- Each type of tree has different seeds with different needs, so make sure to follow the instructions accordingly for the type of tree you are planting.
4Know that if you are planting a tree from the seed of a fruit that you will not get the same kind of tree. For example, if you are planting a seed from a Golden Delicious apple, you won’t necessarily get a Golden Delicious apple tree. You’ll only be able to tell once the tree fruits.
- If you want to grow a tree that yields a certain type of fruit, it’s best to buy one from a nursery to help ensure that it has good rootstock and that you get exactly the fruit you want.
Part Three of Four:
Planting a TreeEdit
1Decide where you want to plant it and mark it. Once you’ve had a chance to look at your land and think about what your goal is, you can decide on a spot to plant your tree. Mark this spot with a bright and wide circle.
- Make sure to take things like power lines, the location of your house and driveway, as well as other trees into consideration so that the roots don’t damage your property as they grow.
- Use a special marking paint to mark your spot. These containers have a special nozzle so that you can spray them upside down.
2Measure the root ball. Before you start digging the hole to plant your tree, measure the plant’s root ball. This will tell you how deep you need to dig the hole.
- At this point you can remove the burlap that is around the root flare, or where the roots connect to the trunk.
- Using a cultivator or garden trowel, remove the top layer of soil from the root ball.
- Remove only enough soil to expose the root flare.
- Measure the height and width of the root ball, from the ground to the top of the exposed root flare, and from one side to the other.
3Prepare the hole for the tree. Using a shovel, dig the hole in which you’ll plant your tree. You want to make sure that it is large enough to accommodate the tree’s size and give it plenty of room to grow and take root.
- Dig a hole that is 2-3 wider and about as deep than the root ball. This will give the tree enough room to fit and allow fresh roots to grow without stress.
- Try to dig the hole with a small "pedestal" of dirt in the center of the hole where the tree will rest. The hole should be a little deeper around the edges but there should be a pedestal of dirt in the center where the root ball sits. This pedestal prevents the root ball from sitting continuously in water. Any excess water will naturally flow to the deeper areas of the hole around the edges where the roots can drink from if needed.
- Measure the hole to see if it is wide and deep enough. If necessary, dig out more soil to reach the desired depth and width.
- Put a light coating of superphosphate in the hole to promote a healthy root system.
4Place the tree into the hole gently. The time has finally come to plant your tree. After you’ve carefully prepared the hole, place the tree gently into its new home. If it doesn’t fit, remove it and adjust the size of the hole.
- Be sure the hole isn't too deep or too shallow. The ground level of the plant should match up with the ground level after you backfill the hole.
- Do not bury over where the stem changes to root, also called the crown, or leave any roots exposed.
- You can place the handle of your shovel flat across the hole from one side to the other to measure whether the crown is level with the surrounding soil before filling in the hole.
5Position the tree. When the tree is in the hole, identify its best face and turn it in the direction you want. Taking this step will make sure that you can enjoy how the tree looks and also make sure your tree has its best face forward.
- Remove any burlap from the tree’s roots at this stage.
- Make sure you position the tree as upright as possible. How you position the tree will affect how it grows in later years for years.
- Consider using a level to measure if you’ve positioned the tree upright. You can also ask a friend or family member to see if the tree is positioned perfectly upright.
- Use stakes to help the tree grow upright if necessary.
6Backfill the hole. Using a mixture of compost and the soil you dug out while you prepared the hole, backfill (or refill) the hole. Make sure you have enough soil to support the roots while giving them room to grow.
- Backfill three quarters of the hole with existing dirt, one quarter with compost or composted manure as needed.
- It’s important to make sure that there are no air pockets around the roots as you backfill the hole. In order to get rid of any air pockets that might be present, backfill only part of the hole and then lightly tamp it down with your hands or the shovel. Do this for subsequent layers.
- When tamping down backfill, make sure to proceed gently and also not use your feet because you could trample the roots.
- Use some compost or composted manure, if needed. If the soil that you currently have is not rich, has clay-like qualities or has the consistency of dust or sand, the addition of manure or compost will give the tree a great start in life.
- If the compost or manure smells, it hasn’t been properly composted and shouldn’t be used because it can “burn” your tree.
- Resist the temptation to use a commercial fertilizer. It can over-boost the tree and make it "burn out” or not thrive.
- Give fruit and nut trees extra attention. Adding manure or compost is essential if you are planting a fruit or nut tree.
7Stake the tree if necessary. If your tree is still a sapling, use a stake to help it grow for about the first year of its life This will keep the tree from blowing over in the wind and allow the roots to become established.Advertisement
Part Four of Four:
Caring for Your TreeEdit
1Water the newly planted tree. Once the tree is planted, water it and keep up a regular schedule of watering. This will help the roots become established in the surrounding soil.
- Water the tree every day for several weeks to let the roots get established. After this, you can reduce the frequency of watering.
- Water as necessary for the conditions in your area. Take into consideration humidity, rainfall, and sunshine to help you decide when to water your tree.
- If you are planting fruit or nut trees for a small home orchard, continue to water weekly for the life of the tree, as your crop depends on consistent irrigation. You’ll also want to fertilize fruit and nut trees monthly, or according to package directions.
2Use mulch. Considering adding a layer of mulch around your tree to help keep moisture in and weeds out.
- Cover the planting hole with 1-3 inches (2.5 cm - 7.6 cm) of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch. Keep the mulch at least 12 inches away from the trunk or it may cause the trunk to rot.
- Mulching around the tree will protect the tree from trampling and lawnmowers, which are two activities that commonly kill young trees.
3Prune the tree if necessary. If there are any broken, dead, or diseased limbs on your tree, remove them gently with a knife or gardening shears. If there is nothing wrong with the tree, there is no need to prune it until after the first growing season.
4Enjoy the tree as it grows over the years. Appreciate its shade and beauty and thank yourself for adding another tree to the world. You won't regret it and as long as you properly care for it, the tree can grow a long time!
- You’ll need to make sure that you water your plant to keep it thriving. You want to achieve a balance of giving it enough water to penetrate the roots while not drowning it.
- Watering your tree with a steady stream from a garden hose for about 30 seconds should be sufficient. The soil should feel moist at all times and mulch will help retain the moisture.
- Check soil moisture by digging about 2” below the surface and then use your finger to test if soil is moist. If it is, you don’t need to water.
How far apart should I plant my Norway Spruce trees?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- A 2' tall potted tree can be over 10' tall in 5 years in good soil and with adequate moisture and weed and grass control around the base. Space a single row 14' apart, double row 16' apart, and multiple rows 20' or more apart.
If I want a specific fruit tree, is it necessary to purchase two for pollination reasons?Answered by wikiHow Contributor
- No. Just get the specific fruit tree you are looking for unless you are looking to cross pollinate ("create" your own fruit tree), then you will have to buy two trees of the fruit variety.
Can we water the roots directly from buried plastic container adjacent to plant, to avoid evaporation of water?
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In a Hurry?Edit
To plant a tree the right way, you’ll want to dig a big enough hole to plant it in. Measure the length of the roots and make the hole at least that deep. Make the hole 2-3 times as wide as the roots on the tree. Put the tree in the hole and use a level to make sure it’s straight. Then, fill in the hole with compost and soil. For more tips from our reviewer, including how to choose the best kind of tree to plant, keep reading!
- Consider the mature height and spread of the tree. the little oak tree now, planted a short distance from your house, could become a hazard during storms 30 years from now. Either plant it farther away, or plant a tree that will mature to something smaller.
- When planting a container tree, tease out the roots into the planting hole. If they are circling too much to do that, make vertical cuts. They will grow back. It is very important that the roots make immediate contact with the backfill soil.
Things You'll NeedEdit
- Place to plant your tree
- Scissors (optional)
- Knife (optional)
- Watering can
- Popular brand of slow release fertilizer (optional)
- Measuring sticks
- Compost or composted manure (available in 40 lb / 18.1 kg bags from most nurseries, garden centers, or hardware stores)
Expert Review By:
Reader Success Stories
JP"I wanted to know if I needed to remove burlap from my tree before planting it. I was told to just plant it with it on. The tree just doesn't seem to be thriving, so I questioned not taking off the burlap. I will dig it up and remove it."..." more
KB"Thank you, learning the depth to plant the trees (whether they be mature or saplings) was important. "Mulching around the trees" and "not compacting the soil around the tree" were two very important things we were cautioned about."..." more
MW"My nine-year-old came home from school with a tree that he was told to plant. I've never done this before; the step-by-step was awesome. Thanks!"..." more
NT"It was specific help, fun to read, and I loved the "what you'll need" list. So excited to add/plant another tree into this world! Wish me luck!"..." more
KC"One of the most comprehensive article on details for a novice like me. I am easily able to get started today. "
ER"I now have a good idea and plan for planting trees in my yard thanks to this page."
EM"We have to do a presentation, and it gave me heaps and heaps of ideas."
JL"It showed me how to plant a tree."
RA"Great instructions! Thank you!"
AM"This was for school, thanks."