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Planting your tree or shrub

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Follow these steps for planting your tree or shrub
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (iStock)

Follow the steps outlined below. Notice that they are different depending on whether you are planting a balled and burlapped, bare root or container grown tree or shrub.

Bare root trees and shrubs

  1. Dig a hole wide and deep enough to hold all the roots without crowding them. Set aside and amend and fertilize the soil from the hole as necessary.
  2. Cut off any dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches. Prune away any dead or damaged roots.
  3. Puddle the roots.
  4. Place the plant in the hole, making sure that it is straight and that the collar is even with the ground. Spread out the roots, making sure that the longest one is facing the prevailing winds.
  5. If you are planting a tree, stake it.
  6. Backfill the hole, in layers, using the soil you set aside when you dug it. Lightly tamp the soil around the roots. Add more soil until it is even with the ground level and the plant’s collar, without covering the collar.
  7. Build up a shallow rim of soil to form a saucer to trap water around the planting hole.
  8. Water thoroughly and deeply. Add more soil if necessary.
  9. Add mulch to the saucer and water it to hold it in place. Make sure that the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk.
  10. Remove the wrapping and anything on the trunk (twine, tags, etc.).

Bare root trees and shrubs

Balled and burlapped trees and shrubs

  1. Open up the top of the root ball to expose the plant’s collar. Measure the height of the root ball to this point. This is how deep your planting hole needs to be. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball.
  2. Dig the planting hole, making sure that it is wide and deep enough, with sloping sides. Set aside the soil from the hole, and amend and fertilize it as necessary.
  3. Cut off any dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.
  4. Place the plant in the planting hole, making sure that it is straight and that the collar is even with the ground.
    • Net, geotextile or any other non-degrading material (including some jutes): remove completely if the root ball holds together well without it.
    • Wire basket, jute and twine: pull the basket away from the top half of the root ball, trying to keep the ball as intact as possible. Cut and fold the jute back toward the bottom of the hole. Do the same with the wire basket. Cut the twine holding the jute together and remove it, if possible.
  5. Stake the tree, if necessary.
  6. Backfill the hole, in layers, using the soil you set aside when you dug it. Lightly tamp the soil around the roots. Add more soil until it is even with the ground level and the plant’s collar, without covering the collar.
  7. Build up a shallow rim of soil to form a saucer to trap water around the planting hole.
  8. Water thoroughly and deeply. Add more soil if necessary.
  9. Add mulch to the saucer and water it to hold it in place. Make sure that the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk.
  10. Remove the wrapping and anything on the trunk (twine, tags, etc.).

Balled and burlapped trees and shrubs

Container grown trees and shrubs

  1. Cut off any dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.
  2. Remove the plant from the container, trying to keep the root ball as intact as possible.
  3. Prune the roots if the plant is root bound
  4. Open up the top of the root ball to expose the plant’s collar. Measure the height of the root ball to this point. This is how deep your planting hole needs to be. The hole should be twice as wide as the root ball.
  5. Dig the planting hole, making sure that it is wide and deep enough, with sloping sides. If you are planting a hedge or creating a mass planting, dig a continuous trench. Set aside the soil from the hole, and amend and fertilize it as necessary.
  6. Place the plant in the planting hole, making sure that it is straight and that the collar is even with the ground.
  7. Stake the plant, if necessary.
  8. Backfill the hole, in layers, using the soil you set aside when you dug it. Lightly tamp the soil around the roots. Add more soil until it is even with the ground level and the plant’s collar, without covering the collar.
  9. Build up a shallow rim of soil to form a saucer to trap water around the planting hole.
  10. Water thoroughly and deeply. Add more soil if necessary.
  11. Add mulch to the saucer and water it to hold it in place. Make sure that the mulch doesn’t touch the trunk.
  12. Remove the wrapping and anything on the trunk (twine, tags, etc.).

Container grown trees and shrubs

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