How To Plant a New Tree
by Karole Dolen-Proffit

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Selecting and properly planting a new tree can provide many benefits for years and years to come. The right tree will not only add beauty to your property, but it can also increase your home's value. Trees help to keep your home cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and even provide homes and food for the neighborhood wildlife.

When selecting a new tree, you will want to try and visualize it at full maturity. Picture the canopy size and trunk girth. Be sure to allow room for power lines, roof overhangs, and fence lines. If you plant a tree in the wrong place now, it can cause a lot of avoidable headaches later on. A little foresight and planning will help with finding the perfect spot.


There are two tree types to choose from - Deciduous and Evergreen.

Deciduous trees are ones that shed their leaves in the Fall, and grow new ones again in the Spring. The beautiful foliage of these trees will provide beneficial shade to protect your home from heating up too much in the Spring and Summer. In the Fall and Winter, the leaves are shed, allowing the sun to shine through and warm your home naturally.

Evergreen trees, with their thick year-round green foliage, are great as privacy screens, and to define the landscaping. They also work well as windbreaks and for shelter. Firs, pines, and spruces are included in the Evergreen family.


Your local nursery or home improvement store will usually have trees that are specifically suitable to the area you live in, and are the best place to buy your trees. They come "packaged" in several different ways - bare-root, containerized, and balled & burlapped.

Bare-root trees, as the name implies, are packed with little root protection. It's very important that the roots are kept moist, and that they are planted as soon as possible.

Containerized trees come in varying sizes of containers. They are bare-root trees that have been planted in containers temporarily until they can be placed in the ground.

Balled & burlapped trees are usually much larger and more mature, and their roots are wrapped in some type of cloth or mesh wiring. They usually have a higher chance of being successfully transplanted than the previous two types mentioned.


One thing to note before you begin digging, is that you will want to make sure there are no underground lines that could pose a danger. Call your city or state's underground service facility to verify that you have picked a safe location.

Now that you have picked your tree and the location, you are ready to begin digging.

Dig and loosen the soil one to two feet deep, and four to five feet wide. A rototiller is perfect for this purpose, but it can be done with a shovel. The loosened soil will ensure the roots can move and grow easily. Compacted soil will inhibit growth, and severely limit or stunt the tree's growth.

Once the area is sufficiently turned and loosened, dig a hole in the middle that is no deeper than the top of the tree's root ball. You will want the soil directly underneath the root ball to be somewhat firm so that the tree does not settle down too much. The width of the hole should be two to three times the diameter of the root ball.

Next, remove any protective wrapping, such as the container, cloth, or mesh wiring. Carefully unwrap any roots that have grown around the root ball in circles, but be careful not to break them off. Roots that are encircling the root ball now, may cause problems to the healthy growth pattern of the tree later on.

Place the tree gently inside the middle of the hole. The top of the root ball should be slightly above where the level ground will be once the hole is filled in.

Now, fill in the hole with the tilled soil, gently tapping with the heel of your foot to close any air pockets. Do not compact the soil too tightly, however, as this can damage the delicate root system.

Finally, create a shallow ridge, or moat, of soil around the outer edge of where the root ball was planted as a water reservoir. Water slowly, filling the reservoir, and then let it drain. The soil should be kept moist, but not over-wet. The leaves will start to yellow and fall off if you water the tree too much.


Mulch: You can place a few inches of mulch around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk. This keeps the soil warm, and prevents weed and grass growth. Keep the width of the mulch circle the same width as the tree's canopy as it grows.

Stakes: Depending on the size and strength of the new tree, you may need to stake it. Most newly planted trees do not need to be staked, and it should be avoided if possible. However, staking will be necessary if the tree does not appear to be strong enough to hold itself from being uprooted in strong winds. Tie the states loose enough with flexible ties so that the tree can still move around in the wind, but tight enough to hold it in place. As the tree grows, check the ties and stakes frequently, and do not be kept them in place longer than one year.

Pruning: Newly planted trees should not be pruned, especially during the first year of growth after planting. Excessive cutting or pruning can shock the tree and cause death.

Following these easy steps will ensure a healthy tree that will give you many years of enjoyment.

About The Author: Karole Dolen-Proffit is a website designer and freelance writer from Northern California. In addition to being a blessed member of a proud unschooling family, she runs several websites including, Your Go 2 Girl, BaaadMedia!, and

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