How do you plant a container tree?

Christopher Wray
May 10, 2019

How do you plant a container tree?

Have you ever asked that question? We know now, 13 years after my Dad started the nursery, how important it is to properly plant trees. Even if a tree is improperly planted, it can survive for sometimes years, but then suddenly die after becoming a beautiful addition to a home. It truly can impact whether a tree will live for years to come.


Find a proper place to plant your tree.

It is really easy to plant a tree, thinking it will stay the same size forever. Make sure that you have considered how large the tree will be when it gets to its mature size. You will want to make sure there aren't any power, gas, water or electrical lines nearby that the tree will obstruct in time. Another thing to consider when planting your tree is how much water and sunlight the tree will experience in its placement. Some trees, like Dogwoods and Japanese Maples, enjoy more shaded areas to grow happily.

Dig the hole.

After finding the perfect spot for your tree, you will want to dig the hole. Make sure to dig the hole with 3-4 inches of space around the root ball in order for the roots to have soft soil in which to start their growth. However, the hole should not be deeper than the root ball of the tree as you don't want the tree to sink lower into the ground.

Remove the tree from container and cut circling roots.

Once you have dug the tree's hole, slide off the plastic container holding the root ball that the tree came in. Take a machete (with caution) or a saw and cut the circling roots on the outside of the root ball. You can be pretty rough with the roots. Make sure to cut at least four vertical cuts all the way around the root ball to ensure that the trees roots will not circle after it has been planted.

Place the tree in its new home.

Next, you can slide the trees root ball into the hole. Make sure that the top of the root ball is even or 1-3 inches above the level of the surrounding soil. You don't want to put any soil on top of the current root ball.

Fill in the edges around root ball with a soil mix.

If you are planting in the Spring, mix in a time release fertilizer to provide growth nutrients for the first year. If you are planting in the Fall or late Summer, just use soil and maybe find a soil mix at your local supply store to mix in around the tree. Compact the soil around the root ball so that there won't be any air pockets.

Water in the tree well.

Make sure to water your tree well to provide a good and healthy start to its new life. After planting, make sure it is receiving the proper amount of water throughout different seasons. During the Summer, trees will need a lot more water.

Stake your tree to prevent wind blowing it over until roots are established.

The final recommendation we have is to make sure to stake your tree after planting. One thing we all have in Tri-Cities is plenty of wind, and it's not fun to have to replant a tree!

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