How to Plant a Tree Properly: 10 Easy Steps

Maxim Panych

Maxim Panych


Planting Trees


If you want to plant a new tree, you might think that all you have to do is grab your shovel and start digging. It is definitely not true…

There are several things you need to consider before you ever touch your shovel. Follow these tree planting tips and you’ll be on your way to a healthy new addition to your yard with no problem.


Step 1: Choosing What Kind of Tree to Plant

The first thing you should do when deciding what kind of tree to plant is to think about what purpose you want your new tree to serve. Do you want a tree that will provide ample shade for some area of your property? Would you like a tree that produces food, like a nut or fruit tree? Do you just want something that’s pleasing to look at? Don`t forget about the size of a tree you are going to plant in a way tree trimming wouldn`t become a problem in future.

Obviously, these questions will give you a good start in choosing the right tree for your yard. There are other considerations to keep in mind, though; even if what you want the most is to plant a row of palm trees, your local climate might not be right for them. Read what trees to plant in Dallas area, for example.

Do you want to plant a tree from a seed? It might be very tricky.

Watch this video on how to grow an avocado tree from seed as an example.

There are a lot of video how to plant a particular tree from the seed on YouTube! 


Step 2: Choose Where to Plant Your Tree

Once you know what type of tree you’d like to plant, you’ll next want to choose where on your property you’d like your tree to grow. Of course, you’ll have to keep your local zoning laws in mind or find out what they are if you don’t already know.

You’ll want to choose a place that won’t interfere with overhead power lines as it grows, and don’t forget to consider whether the spreading root system of the tree will cause problems for driveways or sidewalks.

Please, be careful in a way not to block your neighboors view.


Sizing of Standard Trees


Step 3: Choose When to Plant Your Tree

Before you go any further, you’ll need to know when to plant tree seedlings outside. This will be determined mainly by the type of tree you’re planting because different types of trees grow best when planted at specific times of the year. Ash trees, for example, will do best if planted at the start of the year, in February or March, while oak trees will have the best chance at survival when planted during the middle of the year in June or July.

If you don’t know the best time to plant the specific type of tree you’re going to grow, ask a professional arborist or the staff at your local nursery; they’ll know when is the best time to plant tree seedlings in your area.


Types of Tree Best Season to Plant
Birch, Dogwood, Magnolia Trees, Pine Trees, Ash Trees, Willow Trees, Hazel Trees Winter-Spring
Marple Trees, Fruit Trees, Oak Trees, Birches Summer-Fall


Step 4: Check with Utilities and Local Officials

Now that you know when and where you’ll be planting your tree of choice, there’s one more detail to take care of. Digging holes in your yard can cause serious problems with underground utilities – and sometimes with your local government, depending on your zoning laws.

Verify with the utility companies that digging at the particular spot on your property won’t cause problems, and consult with local officials to make sure you’re allowed to dig at all without being fined.  

You can call 811 before you dig!


Step 5: Buy Your Tree

The details are all sorted out, the right time has come, and you’ve received clearance from utility companies and other officials. The only step left to prepare to plant your tree is to buy it. While you’re choosing the best-looking specimen, keep in mind that tree saplings with bare roots (in burlap instead of a container) usually have a better chance to survive and grow.

If you choose to skip buying a sapling and instead want to grow your new addition from tree seeds, you’ll need to start them in a container before they’re ready to plant in your yard, so keep in mind this method will take longer.

Shop for trees here – Arbor Day Foundation.

Buy a Tree


Step 6: It’s Time to Dig!

Remember that shovel? It’s almost time to put it to use. Before you do, measure the root ball on your sapling once you remove it from its container. However, if your tree has roots covered with burlap, don’t remove it quite yet; just measure the root ball with the burlap still in place.

The hole should be roughly 2 to 3 inches larger than the root ball to allow you to position it properly and keep the root ball from resting in standing water after you fill the hole in and begin watering it. Also, leave a small pile of dirt in the bottom of the hole for the tree to rest on.


Step 7: Position Your Tree

Place the sapling in your newly-dug hole gently and position it so that the most attractive or full side is facing the area of your yard you want it to be visible from.

Make sure your hole isn’t too deep or too shallow, and make sure the tree remains upright while you gently backfill the hole with a mixture of compost and native dirt.


Step 8: Finish Planting Your Tree

Before you begin to fill the hole, this is the time to remove the burlap from the root ball, if that’s how your sapling’s roots were covered. Also, use wire cutters to remove any wiring or wire caging that could kill your tree if they grow into the roots.

Fill the hole, but don’t tamp the dirt down with your foot.

The roots of your new tree are very sensitive, and you can damage them without realizing it.


Step 9: Stake Your Tree

For the first year of its life, your tree will most likely need help to grow straight and tall. Staking the tree will help keep it from blowing over in strong winds and help maintain the sapling’s upright position.

Stakes should be tied gently to the tree; if you tie them too tightly, the trunk may grow over the ties. One stake is usually enough for a small tree, but two or three stakes may be necessary for larger trees.

Look through the following young tree care tips:

Young Tree

Step 10: Caring For Your Tree

You should water your new tree daily for the first few weeks after planting, taking into account any rainfall you get during that time. After this, you can cut back on the amount of watering. Consider mulching underneath your tree to help hold in moisture, and prune any dead, broken or diseased branches as necessary.

Congratulations on planting your new tree! 


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