Tips for Planting a Sapling
When planting a tree, choosing a small, young sapling is generally your best bet. These young trees are able to withstand the shock of being transplanted much better than an older, large-caliper tree. Although the guidelines for planting a young or older tree are similar, there are some minor differences that will determine whether your newly planted tree has a successful future!
1. Dig a hole two to three times the width of the root ball, or of the container the tree is currently in. The hole should be no deeper than the depth of the root ball/container.
2. Carefully remove the tree from its container. It is important to treat the tree gently: always carry the sapling by the base, at the root ball, and not the trunk. Before you place the sapling in the hole, you may have to loosen the roots a bit so that you can spread them out in the hole. Do this gently and carefully, and do not prune or cut the roots.
3. Carefully place the tree upright in the hole. Spread out the roots. Fill the hole with soil, and gently, but firmly, use your foot to press down the soil and remove air pockets around the roots.
IMPORTANT: No matter what size of tree you are planting, it is very important to not not bury the trunk. Burying the trunk by even just 2-inches will shorten the lifespan of your tree.
4. If the tree moves easily in its planting site, you should place 1-3 stakes in the ground and tie them loosely to the trunk to keep it steady. Remove the stakes once the roots grow in enough to keep the tree in place.
Tips for Planting an Older, Large-caliper Tree
“Caliper trees” are older and larger (typically they have a stem diameter of 2-inches or more when measured 6-inches above the soil level) than saplings, and require extra care when planting. Caliper trees are more prone to transplant shock; here are some guidelines that may help reduce their stress!
1. When digging the hole, make it just 6-inches wider, and no deeper than the root ball. Gently place the tree in the hole, and make sure the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Try to keep all the soil that came with the tree intact, and do not disturb the root system by loosening, pruning, or trimming. By keeping the root ball intact, you will help reduce transplant shock.
2. Carefully pack soil around the rootball, making sure the tree will stand upright. Do not bury any of the tree trunk: burying the trunk by even a small amount will kill the tree prematurely.
3. Once planted, create a ring of soil around the circumference of the entire root ball. This will create a saucer that captures water so that the tree can be watered more efficiently.
For more information on planting your tree: