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Remove the burlap and the top-third of the wire cage when planting trees, like this Davey arborist.

Should Burlap or Wire Baskets Be Removed When Planting Trees?

October 17, 2018

Burlap and wire cages help protect delicate tree roots as they get moved from the nursery to your home.

But then, what do you do with them?

Gary, a Davey blog reader from Texas, asked, “When planting an oak tree with a 4-to-6-inch trunk, do you remove wire gauge from the root ball when planting?"

Read on to learn more about the right way to plant burlap-wrapped trees that also have a wire basket.

What You Need to Know About Planting Trees with Wire Cages and Burlap

Burlap and wire cages keep trees intact until they’re safely set in the planting hole. At that point, you should remove most of the burlap and some of the wire.

Do you take the burlap off when planting a tree?

Yep! Remove as much as possible. Once the tree is standing safely in the hole, cut and remove the burlap from around the base of the trunk. Then, work your way down the root ball and remove as much burlap as you can.  

Doing this can help reduce the chances of dehydration and girdling roots. That’s when the roots grow around the trunk or each other and limit the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients.

Should wire baskets be removed when planting trees?

Yup! Remove at least the top third of the basket from the root ball. That’s really all you need to do!

If you try to remove more than that, you increase the likelihood that the root ball will begin to crumble and break apart. That’s no good. Avoid that by only doing the above.  

Did you know that planting a tree too deep is the biggest mistake we see? Avoid that with these tips.

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