Steps for Proper Tree Planting

  • The depth of the planting hole should be approximately 2”above ground level or 2” below the height of the root ball (see illustration below). If you have green/gray clay soil the top of root ball should sit approximately 4-6” higher than ground level.
  • The bottom of the hole should be undisturbed soil. This insures stabilization of the tree and prevents sinking and tilting.
  • A saucer-shaped planting hole, ideally 2 to 3 times the root ball diameter with sloping sides allows the root system to become established before being slowed by the surrounding undisturbed soil. This is enough to minimize post-planting stress.
  • In every tree planting, 20-30% soil amendment should be mixed with existing native soil and filled to correct level.
  • When backfilling do not stomp the dirt around the root ball. Stomping on the soil releases the oxygen that the roots need for healthy growth. 

Based on research, standard procedures are to remove root ball wrapping materials (burlap, fabric, grow bags, twine, ties, wire basket, etc.) from the upper 12 inches or 2/3 of the root ball, whichever is greater, AFTER the tree is set into place.

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