in ,

Tree Planting FAQ’s: What’s the Best Way to Plant a Tree?

It’s tree-planting time again! The fall, with its cooler day and night temperatures, is the ideal time to plant trees and large shrubs — this gives your larger plants the entire cool season to put down deep roots and get established before leafing out in the spring. But, there seems to be a bit of misinformation out there about how to plant a tree properly, and we don’t want you to be misinformed.

side view of father and son planting tree at park

So, here are some FAQs for tree-planting basics — it’s really not that difficult once you get them down!

Q: How big does the hole need to be?

A: Big. Using a shovel, dig a hole just shallower than the depth of the tree’s root ball, and twice as wide as the root ball. You might be able to get away with a hole that is 1.5 times as wide, but I think wider is better.

Q: Should I put compost in the hole?

A: Not usually. Filling the hole with only premium soil or compost typically encourages the tree’s roots to stay in their nice, cozy hole where they have a feast. If you don’t have everything you want to eat at your table, you’ll go to a restaurant, and your tree’s roots will do the same. At most, mix 75% of your native soil with 25% of compost and add that back into the hole — but usually, unless the native soil is just really bad, I leave it alone.

mother and children helping planting young tree.

Q: Can I leave the burlap around the root ball of the tree after planting it?

A: It’s not recommended. Back in the day, burlap was highly biodegradable, but today’s burlap is often treated with chemicals to keep it from rotting. Leaving the burlap on can create a barrier for your roots, and that can keep your tree from establishing and thriving. Best to remove it completely.

Q: Should I stake the tree?

A: Only if it’s at risk of falling over because it’s an unusually windy site or the canopy of the tree is disproportionately large — otherwise, leave it be. Trees’ growth is responsive to their environment, so the action of a tree trunk or branches swaying with the breeze actually makes the tree’s roots grow stronger and deeper.


Share The Garden Love


Orange tree with text, "What is the best way to plant trees?"
Orange tree with text, "4 Tips on planting a tree"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.