If you are planting a bare root tree, most of these trees are best planted in winter, if the ground is not frozen, or in early spring before the leaves come out. Because the roots are exposed, store the trees in a cool, humid place, and keep the roots covered with a moist material until planting time.
Here are steps for planting a bare root tree:
- Make sure you have the proper tools: a garden fork, a shovel, two wooden stakes or tree supports, tree ties, and mulch.
- Use a shovel to mark the area of the planned hole. Make this hole at least twice the diameter of the tree’s root system.
- Dig a shallow hole within the markings. (If you are transplanting a tree, try to make sure that you plant the tree at the same depth at which it was planted before.)
- Use the garden fork to scarify (loosen the soil) the edges of the hole. Loosening the soil makes it easier for the roots to properly expand.
- In the center of your hole, build a small mound.
- Place the two stakes into the ground on opposite sides of the mound. The stakes act as stabilizers and support the tree as it establishes itself.
- Spread the roots over the mound.
- Add enough soil to support the tree (but not fill up the hole) and then spray the area with water.
- Backfill the hole with a little more soil, add water again. Then repeat two or three more times, completely filling in the hole.
- Tamp (pack) the soil down to get rid of air pockets surrounding the tree’s roots.
- If your climate is dry, or if water drains away quickly, dig a moat around the tree to retain water.
- Fasten the tree ties to the stakes and the tree, not too tightly, to ensure that the tree receives adequate support for its first year in the new area.
- Making sure that the mulch does not touch the tree trunk, apply two to four inches of mulch around the planting area.
- For the next year after planting a bare root tree, water the tree well and keep the soil moist.