By starting with a well thought out plan, you can
reduce the stress on your trees. This will get the
roots growing almost as soon as the tree is planted.
I pass by newly planted dead trees all the time. I also pass by a fair share of holes where others have already been removed. Careful planting is necessary to having a strong, good looking tree years down the road.
The following five steps will improve your chances for establishing a strong healthy tree. For more tips please see Seven Tips for Planting Trees.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the rootball (the area of root and soil that came with the tree) of the tree and no deeper than the rootball.
Carefully remove the tree from its pot and place it in the hole. If the hole is too deep, now is the time to fill it in. If the root ball is sticking out of the ground take the tree out and dig a little deeper.
If the roots are ringing around the pot, try to gently loosen them. If you are not able, carefully cut them so they can grow out into the soil.
If the tree is in burlap and a wire cage remove them after you put the tree in the hole. Use bolt cutters to remove the cage.
Make sure the tree is straight, or crooked depending on your preference, and fill the soil in carefully around the tree. Pack the soil as you go. You should not add anything to the fill soil, but it is ok to mix it with the soil from the rootball.
Water the tree in with a hose and compact the soil again. Fill in any spots where the soil is low or washed away.
Make a ring around the tree and put a four inch layer of mulch in the ring. The ring should be big enough to keep lawn equipment from hurting the tree, but bigger is better. Remember, the mulch is protecting the root zone, but it should not be placed against the trunk.
Trees are meant to live a long time. They may even outlive the person planting them. It makes sense to take the time and effort to do it right. So plan ahead, go a little slow, and think about the future as you plant.