How deep should trees be planted?

Christopher Wray
April 19, 2020

How deep should trees be planted?

This is a question that is a surprisingly important question to ask. Trees aren't like annual flowers that we can haphazardly plant in our garden and hope for the best. Trees are long-term investments and something as simple as how deep trees are planted can drastically improve the tree's health and lifespan.

In this article, I will do my best to share with you not only how deep you should plant your trees, but why you should plant your trees to this depth. 

Trees should be planted with root flare at or above ground level.

Trees should be planted with the root flare, or where the trunk starts to develop roots, level or 1-2 inches above the level of the soil.

Tree trunks should never be buried in order to stabilize the tree, so we recommend that you stake your trees if you are worried they may blow over in the wind.

Below are some reasons why trees should be planted at this depth.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop.

Trees roots need oxygen to develop and the soil closer to the ground level has more oxygen. When we plant trees at the correct depth, this mimics what happens naturally in nature after a seed sprouts and starts to grow. When the trees are planted too deep, the roots can have less exposure to the oxygen that exists at higher concentrations closer to the surface of the soil. This will stunt some of the roots growth.

Tree trunks can be negatively impacted by the moisture in the soil.

When trees are planted too deep, the soil is placed along the trunks of the trees. While some varieties of plants can start to develop roots that push from the trunks, many of the varieties of deciduous trees won't do that. Instead, the trunk can start to rot from the moisture in the soil. Eventually,  the trees will be unable to transport important minerals up the phloem (the outside area of the tree) and start to die. By the time a tree is noticeably struggling from this, it will probably be too late to rescue. 

Tree trunks can be strangled from root circling.

Another reason why we recommend planting your trees root flair at the same level as the ground is that when a tree is planted too low and soil is alongside the tree trunk, the roots of the tree can grow up into the soil beside the trunk. In time, this can prohibit tree trunks from growing a larger diameter. The dense roots make it too hard for the trunk to grow at the base. While you won't see immediate effects, within a few years, the phloem will stop transporting minerals and the tree will die.

I hope this helps as you plant your trees! Make sure to plant your trees at the right depth to be sure they continue to grow for years to come.

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