- Identify the root flare, the area at the base of the tree where the trunk widens and the first major roots are attached. Sometimes too much soil is added to the tree when packaged, and you may have to remove some of it to find the root flare.
- Measure from the root flare to the bottom of the root ball or container. This will be the depth of your planting hole. Avoid planting the tree any deeper. Tree roots need oxygen and will suffocate if planted too deeply. The root flare should be visible at ground level after it’s planted.
- Keep soil level and not piled around the stem. Mulch may be placed around the tree out to the edge of its canopy. This will help to retain moisture and should be no more than 2 to 3 inches deep, and even less at the base of the trunk.
- Watering trees require different watering requirements than turf. Trees should be watered before and after planting. Deep root watering should be done until the tree is established approximately every 7-10 days for most species.
- Staking may be necessary to stabilize the tree, especially if bare root or container stock is used. Use material for strapping that will not girdle the trunk, and be sure to leave enough slack to allow for some movement. This will stimulate growth hormones, helping your tree to develop a stronger trunk and root system.
- Do not fertilize in the first year after planting.
Ed Gilman from the University of Florida provides some good knowledge on the subject of tree planting.
When to Plant
Spring and early fall are the best times for tree planting. Moderate temperatures and rainfall help to establish roots before the summertime heat sets in or the freezing cold of winter. The worst time to plant a tree is on a hot windy day. Roots dry out, causing damage and the possibility of tree mortality.