We’re just a few weeks away from spring, which means now is a good time to plant a new tree or two in your yard. If that’s on your to-do list, then you may end up buying a tree in a container from your local nursery. Here are some quick tips for planting that containerized tree the right way.
If you’d like to see those tips in action, here’s a good video from the Arbor Day Foundation. Happy planting!
The Proper Way To Plant A Containerized Tree
- Dig a hole three to four times the width of the container and to the same depth of the container. The sides of the hole should not be vertical — rather, they should slope inward so the top of the hole is wider than the bottom.
- Carefully remove the tree from its container by laying it on its side and tapping the container to loosen the root ball. It’s important to keep the soil around the roots intact as you slide the tree from the container. Take care not to pull the tree out of the container by pulling on the trunk — that may separate the roots from the tree.
- If the roots look root-bound, have no fear. It’s easy to get the roots ready for planting. Simply take a sharp knife and cut four vertical slices along the side of the root ball and an X across the bottom.
- Gently lower the tree into the center of the hole. It’s important not to plant the tree too deep. You can tell if it’s too deep by looking at the root collar — if it sits below ground level, put some soil below the tree until the root flare at the base of the trunk is just a bit above ground level.
- Now it’s time to firmly pack soil around the tree. As you fill in the hole, take care to keep the tree straight upright. Keep filling the hole until the soil is just below the root collar.
- Create a water-holding basin around the tree by building up some soil in a ring a few inches above ground level. Then water the tree with a slow trickle from the hose until the soil is thoroughly watered. Now it’s time to spread some protective mulch around the tree, in a three-foot circle about 2-4 inches deep. Take care to keep the mulch a few inches away from the tree trunk.
- Keep the soil and mulch around the tree moist but not soggy. In dry weather, water the tree every 7-10 days. Water slowly so that pools do not form.
- A couple more tips: Remove any tags from the tree, and do not use fertilizer, potting soil or chemicals when you plant.
Then settle back and watch your new tree grow to maturity!