Some trees are sold “bare root.” These are usually planted in the dead of winter while the tree is dormant. The nursery removes the soil it was grown in and packs it in sawdust or other packing material that will protect the roots. If you dig the tree yourself, transport the tree with protection on the roots. Before planting, the tree needs to be rehydrated by soaking in water.
The hole must be dug large enough to allow the roots to be placed in the same pattern in which they were growing.
Planting a new tree
After all these choices, it is time to plant the tree. First, locate the tree’s flare. The flare is at the base of the trunk where it swells out to become roots. When the tree is placed in the hole, the flare should be above ground level.
The hole should be dug twice as wide in diameter and no deeper than the root ball. The material dug out of the hole should be saved so the hole can be refilled with that same soil. If the hole is filled with some nice rich potting soil, the roots won’t want to leave and girdling could occur.
When removing the tree from the container, lay it down and ease it out of the container. Never remove the tree from the container by grasping the trunk and lifting.
Once the tree is in the hole, makes sure:
• It is straight.
• The best side is showing.
• The flare is above the soil.
Fill the hole half way and water deeply. Fill the rest of the hole and water again.
A berm – or level area bordered by a raised barrier – can be created around the outside of the tree to help keep water focused on the root ball. The berm can be smoothed out at a later date if you wish. Do not add fertilizer when planting. The delicate new roots could be burned.