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How to Plant a Tree

The first year is critical for new trees, and it takes 3-4 years for trees to become fully established.

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Step 1: Dig a Hole

Consult your local nursery for trees and plants that will grow best in your area. Before you dig, call 811. The Common Ground Alliance has set up a national public service number, 811, connecting you with your local utilities marking organization. Make the call two days before starting an outdoor project.Measure the root ball of the tree (Image 1) and dig a hole twice as big as the circumference of the root ball and not quite as deep, so that the root ball is 2" out of the hole (Image 2). Most trees are buried too deep and can often die from suffocation or drowning, so plant them just above the surface of the ground.

Step 2: Prepare the Root Ball

Cut the twine from the base of the tree and cut the metal cage from the root ball. Remove any plastic from around the tree roots.

Step 3: Adjust the Tree

Pull the burlap wrap down about two-thirds from the base of the roots (Image 1). Leave the burlap wrap in the hole, as it will decompose naturally. Adjust the tree so it sits up straight and position it into place (Image 2).

Step 4: Add Soil

Shovel dirt around the root ball. Use a shovel full of native soil for each shovel full of enriched soil.

Step 5: Soak the Area

When the hole is filled, lightly press the tree into the ground with your foot. Then water the tree with a hose, soaking the area next to the tree trunk and around the new soil.

Step 6: Put Stakes in the Ground

Place sturdy stakes on either side of the tree, just outside of the hole and pound them into the ground with a sledgehammer.

Step 7: Attach Tree Straps

Wrap tree straps around the planted tree in either direction, above a lower branch (so it won’t slide) and attach them loosely to either stake with wire.

Step 8: Add Mulch

Add mulch around the base of the tree to slow the evaporation from the soil. Water the tree the next day and then deep soak the planted tree once every week to two weeks after that, depending on the moisture levels.Water plants between 5-9 in the morning. Water evaporates too quickly during the day and watering at night leaves plants and trees vulnerable to fungus and disease.

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