Site Preparation

Once you've determined where you want to plant your trees, the area surround your trees needs to be prepared. Whether you plan on tilling the soil for rows typical in a shelterbelt, or planting large 'bluffs', its crucial to have the area surrounding the tree free of any vegetation. Weeds and grass will out-compete a newly planted tree. 

Ideal the area surrounding the trees is fallow (devoid of any vegetation) for an entire growing season to remove weeds seeds. If you don't have the time, I've found cultivating sites near the end of May when weeds are emerging is sufficient. Following planting, weed control is crutial to the success of your trees.


Before planting a large amount of trees I dig all the holes first. Most articles say to dig a hole twice the size of the pot the tree is in. What this means is twice the width of the pot. So if the diameter of the pot is 6 inches, make the hole a foot in diameter (3 inches of space all around). For depth, dig the hole a couple inches deeper than the pot. 

Once all the holes are completed, fill them up to the top with water. Let them sit until the water has soaked in, and then fill them again with water. Once all that water has soaked in, the holes are ready for planting.


After removing the tree from the pot, loosen up the rootball. If there are any long roots spiraling around the outside and the bottom, pull these away from the root ball. This will help the roots to grow away and integrate into the surrounding soil.

Put about 3-4 inches of loose soil back in the hole. Sprinkle the planting fertilizer we've recommended. Pack the soil at the bottom of the hole. You may have to adjust the dirt under the root ball. An empty pot is a good depth gauge and is easier to move. Make allowance for the difference between the pot and the root ball.

The top of the root ball should be even with the top of the soil. This is important You do NOT want to bury the the trunk. It's a trunk, not a root, and being buried may cause it to rot off.

Once you've finished backfilling the soil surrounding the tree, gently step on the top using your weight to pack the soil. This won't 'overpack' the soil that many website will warn you not to do. Next, create a square berm surrounding the tree using loose soil about 2-3 feet across and 4 inches high. This will help to retain water when you're watering the tree. If you're planting in thick grass, cutting out the sod will have the same effect. 

Fill the basin with water, putting 1 teaspoon of 10-50-10 water soluble fertilizer per gallon. If the tree came in a 1 gallon pot, put in 1 teaspoon. If the tree came in a 5 gallon pot, put in 5 teaspoons. Fill the basin with water until its completely full.