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Time to Plant: Part 3 – Plant it Right!

This is part three of our tree planting blog series. If you’ve been following along, you’ve learned how to select a location and a suitable species for your yard (Part 1), and how to purchase a quality tree from a nursery (Part 2). Now let us help you learn how to plant your tree correctly so that it grows into a strong, healthy, long-living tree!

We thought about writing our own original content for this part of the series, but why reinvent the wheel? The US Forest Service has a great 12-step guide to installing your new tree (with lots of pictures!) Click below to get started!

Also, scroll down for some “gory” photos of poorly planted trees. OUCH! 

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Important Items to Note:

  • Avoid trunk damage. When moving your tree, do not damage the trunk. Even small wounds can lead to permanent damage!
  • Mulch conservatively. Never mulch deeper than 2-3″ so that oxygen can still be delivered to the root system. The guide says 4″, but we believe less is more.
  • Prune minimally. Don’t prune branches unless they are broken or dead. You can also remove a competing leader, but avoid pruning for aesthetics until the second or third year to prevent shock.
  • Identify girdling roots and other root issues. Girdling roots should be addressed and severed before planting. If you are unsatisfied with the root structure and feel you have purchased a poor quality tree, take it back! You deserve better! 
  • The hole is everything! “Don’t put a $100 tree in a $10 hole.” The importance of the dimensions of the hole shouldn’t be taken lightly. Find the root flare and be careful NOT to bury it. Your tree should not look like a light pole sticking out of the ground. Planting a tree too deeply may seem like a good idea and that you’re giving it added support, but it is extremely harmful to the tree. 
  • Stake only when necessary. Staking is now a fairly controversial practice. If your tree is very large and top heavy, causing it to be unstable, staking may be necessary. But if you’re planting a smaller tree (which you are, RIGHT?!) you probably don’t need to stake. Remember that a tree that is given the freedom to move slightly in the wind will develop a stronger structure in the long run. If you must stake, do it properly, and remember to remove it after 1-2 years.

Gallery of Poorly Planted Trees

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