Perfect Tree Planting

Are you ready to add new trees to your landscape? You don’t need to hire professionals to do the planting when you learn the basics of doing it the right way yourself.

Selecting a Tree

There are many things to consider when selecting a new tree for your landscape. Among those considerations are tree size, form, function, personal aesthetics, and pest & disease resistance. Contact your local Master Nursery Garden Center for assistance with selecting the perfect tree to meet your needs.

When to Plant

Trees may be planted any time of year that the ground is not frozen.

Soil Preparation

How quickly and how well a tree becomes established is affected by the amount of stress it is exposed to before and during planting. Minimizing plant stress is the goal of proper planting.

Soil preparation is the first and, by far, the most important step in new tree planting. This is accomplished by incorporating organic matter into the soil to improve aeration, assist in drainage of compacted soils, and improve soil nutrient-holding capacity. The perfect product for this is Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder [Eastern & Midwestern Regions | Western Region].  Bumper Crop® Soil Builder is a soil-amending powerhouse including manure, worm castings, kelp meal, aged bark, and more!  There is simply no better way to get your tree off to a healthier start. Trees with a limited soil tolerance range may require additional additives to meet their constraints, but only if the soil has an inappropriate pH or is lacking in certain elements.

Dig a planting hole that is 50 percent wider but only as deep, or slightly less deep, than the plant’s existing root ball. Prepare the soil by mixing two-thirds existing native soil with one-third  Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Builder.

Planting Container-Grown Trees

When you buy a young tree from a Master Nursery Garden Center, it may come potted. Remove the plant from that container gently, but without pulling on the delicate trunk or foliage. Squeezing the container all around can help loosen the root ball so it slides out more easily, or the container may be thin enough to cut away.

Because the plant was grown in a container, its roots may have been restricted by the shape of the pot. Loosen the roots all the way around, even on the bottom. Center the plant in the prepared hole, keeping it 1-3 inches above grade and the roots spread out.

Planting Field-Grown Trees

If you are transplanting a tree that has been field-grown, it will be balled and burlapped. Center the plant in the prepared hole, measuring to make sure that the top of the root ball will sit 1-3 inches above the grade once the hole is backfilled. Cut and remove all cords or twine from the root ball and trunk. Burlap should be loosened, pulled away from the trunk and left below the soil surface, in the hole. Remember to move trees carefully. Roll the root ball on its side and “steer” it into the hole with the trunk. Straighten the tree upright in the hole, checking it from different angles to be sure it is fully upright.

Completing the Planting

For both container-grown and balled and burlapped plant material, backfill the planting hole with your soil mix and pack firmly. Make a rim of soil around the plant to act as a “saucer” for holding water.

Water thoroughly, soaking slowly, and use a root stimulator fertilizer to provide good initial stimulus for the roots to grow and spread. We highly recommend Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Starter Food formulated specifically to help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots for sustainable development. It is a superior blend of natural ingredients, rich in organic phosphate, to help trees develop a strong foundation for future growth.

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around your new planting, keeping an open space of 3 inches around the trunk or base of the plant to allow for air circulation.

Staking Newly Planted Trees

When newly planted, trees are not yet firmly established and may tip or lean as the soil settles. It’s a good idea to moor the tree with three wires secured to anchor stakes in firm ground (never into the root ball). Where the wires touch the tree, they should be covered with rubber hose to prevent damage. Make sure that the wires are slightly loose. This allows the tree to move slightly in the wind, helping roots to grow stronger. Remove stakes as soon as roots become established. This can be as soon as a few months, so check your tree frequently. Stakes should not be left in place any longer than one growing season.

It can seem intimidating to plant your own tree since it is a permanent investment in your landscape that you hope to enjoy for many years. By understanding planting basics, however, you can easily give every new tree a great start in its new home.

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