The "Right" Way to Plant a Tree

Article written by Saturday6TM blogger Noelle Johnson from AZ Plant Lady

Some of you may be surprised to find that many trees are not planted correctly. As a certified arborist, I have seen countless trees that are suffering from problems caused by improper planting. The damage can actually take years to show up in some cases.

Growing beautiful, healthy trees isn't difficult, especially if you start them out right. The most important part is the hole. You may have your tree all picked out and are ready to plant, but before you dig your hole, you need to do one thing first if your tree is a box tree or in a container. Gently scrape the top layer of soil until you reach the part of the tree trunk where it begins to flare out.

Many trees have an extra layer of soil, which can smother the roots if it is too thick. Roots need oxygen, and if there is too much soil it decreases the amount of oxygen that is available to them. Now you are ready to dig "the hole" as long as you are armed with this important tip: Make a hole at least 3X as wide as the root ball of the tree and just as deep as the root ball (once you have scraped off any excess soil from the top).

When the hole is wider than the root ball, the roots can grow easily outward. The hole should be no deeper than the root ball because the roots can be easily smothered.

Okay, we are almost done with preparing our hole. Now many of you would probably think that this would be a good time to add organic matter such as compost and maybe a handful of fertilizer.

Well the answer is actually NO. Numerous studies have shown that when organic matter is added to planting soil to enrich it for an ornamental tree, something interesting happens. Imagine that you are a tree root and you have just been planted in a mixture of really rich soil. You begin to grow outward and then you reach an area where the soil is not rich, in fact it is rather boring. Well, at this point you decide to just stay where the soil is rich and you do not grow outwards any further.

So, just use the existing soil when planting ornamental trees, which will result in the roots growing outward for greater distances.

Now we have the perfect-sized hole and our tree is ready to plant.