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If possible, prepare the site before you bring in the tree.  Keep the root ball well watered and keep the tree in a shaded place until you are ready to plant.  It is important to expose the trunk flare on each balled and burlapped tree before the planting site is dug so that the depth of the planting site can be properly measured.

The trunk flare is the point where the roots begin to branch from the trunk. 

Remove burlap from immediate trunk area of tree.  Pull back excess soil around trunk of tree to locate trunk flare.  Measure the height from the trunk flare to the bottom of the root ball.  This will be the depth of the planting hole.


Trunk flare and top of root ball should be at or slightly above grade.  Dig the space at least 3 times the width of root ball.  Break up compacted soil.  Score the sides of the planting hole with the shovel blade so the sides of the hole are loosened.  Leave bottom of space firm.


Do not amend soil unless planting in heavy clay or poor soil.  If amendments are needed, use soil conditioner, mushroom compost or composted cow manure.


Lift tree into planting space by the root ball, not the trunk.  Balance tree upright in center of planting space.

For trees in wire baskets, after the tree is in the hole, loosen the wire and burlap and fold down to expose the upper half of the root ball.  Do not remove soil from the root ball.  If tree is container grown, cut and remove container.

Prune dead or crushed roots and straighten or cut circling roots.  For container grown plants, if there are dense roots on the sides of the root ball, score with a sharp knife.

Begin refilling with soil, watering as you fill to firmly set the tree.  Gently tamp the loose soil.  Be careful not to plant too deep!  Trunk flare and top of root ball should be at or slightly above grade.  Fill soil up just to where the roots begin to branch from the trunk.

Prune only dead or injured branches.  Do not paint wounds.

Stake and brace most trees at planting time.  Support the tree but allow it to move or sway.  Use wide, belt-like strapping attached to two sturdy stakes.  Do not use rope or wire through a hose.

Mulch lightly and evenly 3” deep and out to at least the diameter of the crown of the tree.  Leave a 4-6” circle of bare soil around the trunk.  Deep layers of mulch can be harmful.  Do not plant flowers or shrubs under tree.  Do not fertilize at planting time.


Water is the critical factor for tree survival after planting.  Deep water regularly throughout the first growing season.  Allow water to run slowly, soaking the soil, once or twice a week.  Do not over water.  Water at the perimeter or edge of the planting site.

Keep lawn mowers and string trimmer aware from the tree to avoid wounding the trunk.  Reduce herbicide use near the tree and in surrounding lawn.

Never fertilize newly planted or stressed trees.  Fertilizer is not tree food.  It should be applied (if absolutely necessary) only after the first year.  When used, fertilizer should be applied at the perimeter edge of the planting site.

Start an annual tree inspection program while the tree is young to head off problems early.

Replace mulch as needed.  Keep grass and weeds out of mulched area.  Do not plant flowers or shrubs directly under a tree.  They compete for the same water and elements as the tree.  Never cultivate the soil under a tree.

Remove stakes and strapping after one year unless the site is extremely windy.  Do not stake longer than two years.

Prune dead or injured branches immediately.  Prune while young to maintain size and shape, beginning in the second growing season.  Never top trees to reduce height.  Consult a pruning guide for proper pruning techniques!

Call an insured tree care professional for advice on large pruning jobs, hazard trees, and insect or disease problems.  Non-professionals should never prune near utility wires.

Continue to water during dry periods for 2-3 years after planting and whenever severe drought conditions exist.

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