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Plant A Tree Properly

How To Plant A Tree Correctly

The Texas Forest Service now recommends that trees be planted 2 inches above grade.

  • Deglaze the hole.  Scratch the sides of the hole to remove the hard-glazed edge.  Remove any tags, tape, string, or wire from the tree.
  • Use your shovel or rake to measure the root ball.  Place the tool beside the container and visually mark on the handle the height of the soil inside the container plus two inches. Fill the hole if it is too deep and tamp the added soil down by jumping up and down on it to remove air pockets. Check the height again and add more soil if necessary.
  • Remove the tree from the container.  This may not be as easy as it sounds.  If the tree does not easily come out of the container, cut it off.  Do NOT forcibly pull the tree out by its trunk because you will be breaking roots that the tree needs for survival.
  • Remove overfilled potting soil to find the root flare.  Most trees are overfilled as nurseries repot each year to the next larger pot.  The root flare is where the tree’s tissues change from trunk (or stem) to roots creating a flare that must remain above ground.
  • Check for girdling roots.  Make several vertical cuts around the root ball and gently loosen and/or straighten roots that form a circle around the root ball.  Gently massage the outside of the root ball to loosen surface roots.
  • Measure the root ball again and adjust the depth of the hole accordingly. Tamp down any added soil.  The top of the root flare should be 2 inches above grade.  Place the tree in the hole.  Handle the root ball to adjust the tree if necessary.  Check one more time to be sure that the root flare is 2 inches above grade.  If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, remove wire and burlap.
  • Backfill the hole with native soil.  Taper the soil from the root flare to the edge of the planting hole.
  • Install drip irrigation tubing in concentric circles around the tree.  Inner ring 24” diameter, outer ring 48” diameter, evenly spaced around the tree but NOT touching the tree.
  • Install a 2 – 3 inch layer of mulch in a donut shape out to the dripline or beyond.  Mulch should not touch or be stacked against the trunk.  Donut – NOT volcano.
  • Stake the tree if necessary, but be sure that the tree can still move. Use wire that has been covered with protective tubing to avoid damaging the trunk.  Remove the stakes after one season.
  • Adjust irrigation the first three – five years making sure that it never touches the trunk and that it extends beyond the tree’s canopy.  Remove the irrigation once the tree is established.



Keep Midland Beautiful, Inc
3500 N A St Ste 1500  •  Midland, TX 79705
(432) 688-7745 main •  (432) 688-7746 fax


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