Plant Any Tree Step by Step (Burlap Wrapped, Potted and Seedlings)

Plant Any Tree Step by Step (Burlap Wrapped, Potted and Seedlings)

You’re ready. You asked yourself all the right questions about what tree is best for you. You ventured out and hand-selected the perfect tree and found just the right place to plant it.

Now, you just need to know how to plant a tree. Let’s do this! Whether you’re planting a balled and burlap tree, a container-grown tree or a tree sapling, find step-by-step planting instructions below.

 

How to Plant Any Tree Step-by-Step Instructions

Before you begin planting a new tree, read these tree planting tips.

  • Plant your new tree as soon as you can to set your tree up for its best chance of survival. Otherwise, place it in a cool, dark place that’s away from wind and direct sunlight, and keep the roots damp.

  • Before you begin digging, contact your utility or gas company to make sure there are no pipes or wires there. In many states, this is required by law.

  • Wondering how long it takes to plant a tree? Generally, a sapling can be planted in 15 to 30 minutes while container-grown or burlap trees take an hour to plant.

  • Pay extra-close attention when positioning the tree depth around the root flare. Planting the root flare too deep is the biggest tree planting mistake!

How to Plant a Burlap Wrapped Tree (Steps)

  1. To move your tree, roll it or hold it by the root ball– never the trunk or branches.

  2. Dig a saucer-shaped hole as deep as the tree and 2 to 3 times as wide as the root ball.

  3. Position your tree, so the area where the roots meet the trunk is at or slightly above the ground. That’s called the root flare.

  4. Remove burlap. It’s hard to tell the difference between synthetic and organic, and sometimes even organic burlap doesn’t decompose properly. Then, remove the entire wire cage.

  5. Hold the tree upright, and refill the hole with the soil you just removed. Pack the soil to get rid of any air pockets.

  6. Add 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, and water.

  7. If your tree was grown in a wire basket, stake it to provide enough support. Remove after a year. 

How to Plant a Potted Tree or Tree Grown in a Container (Steps)

  1. An hour before you plant, water the tree to reduce transplant shock and make it easier to remove from the container.

  2. When moving the tree, grab and hold by the container–never the trunk or branches.

  3. Dig a saucer-shaped hole as deep as the container and 2 to 3 times as wide.

  4. To remove the tree from its container, place it on its side. Because you just watered it, the tree should easily slide out when you tap the bottom of the container. If needed, tilt the container. Just be sure to support the trunk!

  5. Cut off any roots that are squishy or dead. If the roots look tangled, make several vertical cuts in the sides of the root ball and an X-shape cut in the bottom to loosen the roots.

  6. Position your tree, so the area where the roots meet the trunk is at or slightly above the ground. That’s called the root flare.

  7. Hold the tree upright, and refill the hole with the soil you just removed. Pack the soil to get rid of any air pockets.

  8. Add 2 to 3 inches of organic mulchand water.

How to Plant a Tree Sapling or Seedling (Steps)

  1. Handle the sapling very carefully. It's very easy to cause root damage or accidentally break the sapling.  

  2. Dig a saucer-shaped hole as deep as the tree and 3 to 4 times wider than the roots. Usually, this hole is 8 to 10 inches deep and about 4 inches wide.

  3. Remove any organic matter, like leaves or twigs, from the hole.

  4. Position your tree, so the area where the roots meet the trunk is at or slightly above the ground. That’s called the root flare.

  5. Hold the sapling upright, and refill the hole with the soil you just removed. Pack the soil to get rid of any air pockets.

  6. Add 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch and water.

Your new tree is planted! Now, learn new tree care tips to help establish it.

  • The Tree Doctor July 2, 2018 >Hi Joanne, Plants coming from the nursery commonly have their root crowns buried under several inches of soil. Unless it is positively known that the root crown is at or just slightly below the container surface, it is recommended to plant the tree slightly above grade. If your tree is marginally hardy to the area, it would be best to plant at grade to help protect the crown from freeze injury. Hopefully, this helps. Here if you have any more questions, Joanne.
  • Joanne Zbetnoff June 27, 2018 >I always thought a you tree (5 gallon pot) should be planted with the top of the root ball at the same level as surrounding soil: what is the reason for planting with the root flare slightly above ground?
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