Call before you dig:
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1. Confirm that your location suits the tree that you intend to plant. Consider things like overhead power lines, underground utility lines and proximity to boundaries and other structures on your property.
2. Dig a shallow, broad planting hole. Make the hole wide, as much as three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the root ball. Breaking up the soil in a large area around the tree provides the newly emerging roots room to expand into loose soil and helps the tree become established.
3. Ensure that the tree is planted at the proper height by keeping the top of the root ball level with the ground. If the tree is planted too deeply new roots will have difficulty developing because of lack of oxygen.
4. Straighten the tree in the hole and begin backfilling with good soil. Add soil in layers and settle with water. Continue this process until the soil is 20cm (8”) from the top of the hole and then remove the strapping and burlap near the top of the root ball. The top ring of the wire basket can also be removed.
5. Continue adding soil to the hole in layers and settling with water until the hole is filled and the tree is firmly planted.
6. Make a saucer-like rim around the outside edge of the root ball to direct water into the root zone.
7. Adding a 2 – 4” layer of organic mulch to the area at the base of the tree helps maintain a healthy growing environment. Leave a 1 – 2” mulch free area at the trunk of the tree so that the bark of the trunk is not covered.
8. For potted trees, remove the container and apply the same principles.
9. If necessary, stake the tree by driving one or two stakes into the ground near the edge of the root ball. Fasten the tree to the stakes with webbing or another soft material to prevent damage to the tree. Stakes should be removed after two seasons.
10. Provide follow-up care. Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Water trees at least once a week, barring rain, and more frequently during hot weather. When the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, it is time to water. Continue until mid-fall, tapering off for lower temperatures that require less frequent watering.
11. Other follow-up care may include minor pruning of branches damaged during the planting process. Prune sparingly immediately after planting and wait to begin necessary corrective pruning until after a full season of growth in the new location.
12. Apply root stimulating fertilizer (these are higher in phosphorous). Do not apply nitrogen fertilizers until the 3rd year after planting.