enlargeTree Planting Tips
1 Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. The hole should be three times the diameter of the tree's root ball but only as deep as the root ball itself. It's important to make the hole wide because roots on the newly-established tree push through surrounding soil to establish.
2 Identify trunk flare. Find the trunk flare so you can determine how deep the hold needs to be for proper planting. Trunk flare is the point where roots spread at the tree base. This point should be partially visible after the tree is planted (see diagram). If the trunk flare is not visible, remove some soil from the top of the root ball.
3 Place tree at the proper height. Before placing the tree in its hole, ensure that the hole has been dug to the proper depth. Many roots on the newly-planted tree will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. If the hole is too deep, new roots will have difficulty developing from lack of oxygen. Plant the tree two to three inches above the base of trunk flare. This planting level allows for settling (see diagram). To avoid damage when setting the tree in the hole, lift it by its root ball, never by the trunk.
4 Straighten the tree. Before backfilling, check the tree from several directions to confirm that it's straight.
5 Fill the hole gently but firmly. Fill the hole about 1/3 with soil and gently but firmly pack that soil around the base of the root ball. If the root ball is wrapped, cut and remove any fabric, plastic, string, and wire from around the trunk and root ball to facilitate growth (see diagram). Take care not to damage trunk or roots while unwrapping.
Fill in the hole, packing soil firmly to eliminate air pockets that may cause roots to dry out. Add soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Continue until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted. Fertilizer isn't necessary during planting.
6 Stake the tree, if necessary. Trees establish more quickly and develop stronger trunk and root systems if they aren't staked during planting. However, protective staking may be required on sites where lawn-mower damage, vandalism or windy conditions are concerns. If staking is necessary, use two stakes in conjunction with a wide, flexible tie material on the lower half of the tree. This holds the tree upright, provides flexibility, and minimizes injury to the trunk (see diagram). Remove support staking and ties after the first year of growth.
7 Mulch the tree's base. Mulch acts like a blanket that holds in moisture, controls soil temperature extremes and prevents grass and weed competition. Choices include leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or composted wood chips. A two to four-inch layer is ideal. More than four inches may cause oxygen problems. When placing mulch, don't cover the tree trunk (it promotes decay). A mulch-free area, one to two inches wide at the base of the tree, prevents moist bark conditions and decay.
8 Follow-up care: Keep soil moist but not soaked; overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Water trees at least once weekly and more frequently during hot weather. When soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it's time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less-frequent watering.