Gardening Basics

How to Plant a Tree

Planting a tree seems like an easy task, but there is a process involved from start to finish. To give your tree a good chance for success, follow these simple step-by-step instructions.

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Materials Needed:

  • tree to plant
  • spade or sod cutter
  • round shovel
  • hard rake
  • garden hose
  • scissors or knife (optional)
  • compost or compost manure

Locate a Spot for the Tree

Regardless if you select a short- or long-lived tree, you'll be stuck with this tree for a few years at least. So pick a planting site that is clear of power lines and has room to grow upward and outward. For example, don't plant the majestic oak right next to the house; instead plant it further away from the house so it has a chance to be a full-grown specimen.

Select a Tree

Assess the site conditions, such as USDA hardiness zone, sun vs. shade, moderate vs. boggy soil, near power lines and more. These conditions will play a factor in identifying what is the ideal tree for the site. If you're not sure, consult a landscape professional at your local garden center.

Prepare the Site

If the planting site is in the middle of a garden bed, remove or transplant existing plants to another location and rake the soil smooth. However, if the planting site is in the middle of a lawn, it may be best to remove the sod with a spade or sod cutter. Using a garden hose as your marker, draw a circular outline in the grass with at least a three-foot radius from the center of where the tree will be. Then remove the sod within the perimeter of the garden hose. You can save the sod and reuse in another part of the yard. Use the hard rake to break up any soil clods or remove small clumps of sod.

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