How to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are generally sold in one of three ways:

  • Roots in a burlap ball
  • Roots in a plastic container
  • Roots bare

All three are planted in similar ways. Follow these steps when planting:

  1. Excavate a hole two to three times as wide and one-and-a-half times as deep as the burlap ball, the container, or the longest root of a bare-root plant.
  2. Then, based on a soil test, mix soil amendments into the excavated soil and add this mixture to the bottom third of the hole. Tamp it down with your feet.
  3. Once the hole is dug, lower the plant inside.
    1. For plants in a burlap ball, place the burlap ball directly into the hole. It will gradually decompose on its own.
    2. For container plants, first remove the container, pull the root ends gently away from the root mass, and then lower the plant into the hole.
    3. For bare-root plants, just spread the roots across the amended soil at the bottom of the hole.
  4. Once the plant is situated in the hole, make sure that the soil line on the trunk or stems of the plant aligns with the surrounding soil. If the plant is too high or too low in the hole, it won’t flourish.
  5. Fill in around the roots with amended soil and tamp it with your feet.
  6. Form a berm (a ring-shaped mound) around the excavation with amended soil and tamp it with your feet. Then fill it with water; once it drains, add mulch to the depression.
  7. Wind protective wrap around the trunk. Then drive a stake into the ground on either side of the tree. Tie the trunk to the stakes with cloth strips.
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