Tree planting can be easy if you can avoid a few common mistakes that most of us make. If tree planting is done in a burrow too deep it will not allow the proper amount of oxygen get to the roots to ensure good growth. If the burrow is not wide enough the roots will be unable to expand enough to nourish and the tree will not be anchored properly. As a rule you should not transplant a tree any deeper than its original container soil. The holes width needs to be no less than 3 times the width of the container, the root ball, or the spread of the roots on a bare root tree.read more
If you purchase a tree wrapped in burlap or in a ball and cannot transplant it right away, you can store it in a shady place as long as you keep the root section moist, but it still needs to be planted as soon as possible. When you do get around to planting the tree always lift it by the ball and not by its trunk. If the tree is wrapped in natural burlap you can pull it back a third of the way off the ball; if the burlap is plastic or synthetic you will need to cut away all of the burlap. You will also need to remove all string or twine. Once the tree is placed in the excavation start adding your back-fill soil such as compost, topsoil, or peat moss, around the tree only to just under the root ball to allow settling. Be sure not to pack down the back-fill, this may prevent any water from reaching the roots and the roots will be unable to expand out as they should.
Container trees can also be stored for a short time but because they are container trees they have a tendency to heat up faster and dry out quicker. The methods for planting are basically the same as for the burlap tree or ball tree. All plastic or metal containers need to be removed completely; if the container is made of fiber it is best to remove the sides but you can leave the bottom. Check the roots after removing from the container; if they seem to be root-bound use your fingers to loosen the roots and spread them out. If the tree has very woody compacted roots you may need to use a spade on the bottom section of roots to open it up. Then you can gently fan-out the roots before planting; doing this will prevent the roots from ‘girdling’ around the tree which can kill the tree. Once you have the tree in place use your back-fill to the level the tree was while in the container and do not compress.
Planting a bare root tree is a little different mainly because there is no soil encircling the roots. Time is the most important factor between purchasing and planting this type of tree; it needs to be planted as quickly as possible. Before you purchase a bare-root check the roots carefully to be sure they are moist and they have many lengths of delicate root hairs; this is a sign of a healthy tree. Be sure to keep the roots until moist you plant it. Prune any damaged roots but still leave as much of the root structure as you can. When you plant a bare-root you will need to build a cone-shaped mound of soil in the center of the cavity; this will allow you to spread the roots out when you plant. Make sure your mound is high enough so the trunks flare and crown of the roots is two inches above the soil; this will help the tree settle naturally.
As soon as you have planted your tree it will need to be watered. During the tree’s first growing season, it will need to be watered on a weekly basis particularly if there is no rain and more times during the summer heat. If you over-water it may lead to oxygen deprivation. If you are not sure if the tree needs water, dig around the edge of the cavity about 6-8 inches down, if the soil feels crumbly or floury it needs more water. Soil that contains enough moisture forms into a ball if you squeeze it. Moisture should reach down to about 12 to 18 inches in order to encourage root growth; for this reason a deep soaking is much better than a light watering.
Your newly planted tree can be covered with mulch to help retain moisture and improve upon water and air penetration. Mulch depth should be at least 3 inches but not more than 4 inches. Any type of porous landscape fabric can be used since it allows water and air to penetrate freely. Plastic sheeting should never be used as mulch since it will not allow air and water to flow properly.