Courtesy of Tree Canada - www.treeCanada.ca
1. Minimize stress to your trees
• Protect your tree well during transport to avoid bruising the bark and breaking twigs, branches, and buds.
• Pad the tree trunk and branches with burlap and tie all loose ends with soft rope or twine.
• Keep the root ball moist and cover exposed bare roots with wet burlap or moss.
• Cover tree crowns with wet burlap to prevent drying of the tops, especially evergreen.
• Keep the tree in a shady location until it is time to plant.
2. Prepare the planting spot
• Remove grass, weeds and ground cover (turf) within a 50-cm radius of the planting hole. These plants compete with the tree for water and nutrients.
• Dig the hole at least twice as wide as the container or root ball (to accommodate the entire root system), and to the depth of the root ball.
• Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole to allow root penetration.
• If good quality soil is not available, break up the turf taken from the top and put it in the hole around the root ball, where it will break down into good rooting soil. Peat or loam, if added, would improve this mixture.
• Soil in the hole should be moist, not too wet or too dry.
• A cone-shaped mound of soil at the bottom of the hole is advised for bare-root trees. This will allow the roots to develop downward and outward into the surrounding soil.
3. Prepare your trees for root growth
Bare-root: Loosen the roots with a spray of water and straighten them to prevent doubling-under, crowding, and crossing. Do not expose the roots to direct sunlight or drying winds for more than a minute to avoid damaging the fine root hairs.
Container: Trees should be kept in the container until the last possible moment before planting.
Burlapped: Trees wrapped in burlap should not be soaked prior to planting. There is no need to remove the burlap; just loosen it and it will soon rot away. In cool and dry soil conditions, it may be preferable to remove the burlap rather than leaving it to slowly decompose. Roots circling the outside of the root ball should be clipped, and roots matted on the bottom should be cut off.
4. Plant your tree with care
Bare-root: The root crown is set on the mound and the roots spread over and down the sides of the mound. Refill the hole with good quality soil, gently raising and lowering the tree while filling to eliminate air pockets.
Burlapped / Container: Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball is flush with the top of the hole. Fill the hole in and around the root ball with good quality soil or soil removed from the hole. Tamp the soil around the root ball until the hole is two-thirds full. Fill the remaining space with water to settle the soil and allow the hole to drain. Finish filling the hole with soil and make a ridge of soil around the root ball to direct water towards the roots. Water applied beyond the root ball is not available to the tree until roots grow into the native soil. If soil settles after a few days of watering, additional soil may be required to refill the planting hole.