How to Plant a Tree Step by Step

Well done if you’re interested in learning how to plant a tree. Even one new tree has a big and advantageous effect on our ecosystem. But how do you plant a tree correctly so that it grows and prospers?

We’ll lead you through every step of the procedure in this post on how to plant a tree, from choosing a spot to planting your tree at the proper depth to maintaining its health for many years to come. Continue reading for a thorough explanation of how to plant a tree!

Before we jump into the matter of how to plant a tree, let’s take note that to have a healthy and useful tree, you should think about the following.

  • Choose a healthy tree that will grow well in your climate naturally. 
  • Fall or early spring are good times to plant most tree species.
  • Decide on a level, open spot far from structures, electrical lines, and other utilities.
  • Make sure the area you choose receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.

1. Choose a healthy tree that will grow well in your climate naturally.

One of the first things you should consider if you want to plant a tree is to choose a healthy tree that will grow well in your climate naturally. Since trees have a long lifespan, choosing a local species that won’t face survival challenges is crucial. Spend some time learning about the native trees in your area if you’re unsure of which species are present there.

  • You can also ask the proprietor of a nearby nursery for advice on species.
  • Native soil is always the best place for tree roots to grow. As long as the species is native and climate-appropriate, you shouldn’t need to amend or fertilize the soil.

2. Fall or early spring are good times to plant most tree species.

The best time to plant is in cool weather because that is when the trees are dormant. When the roots are actively growing in the late spring or summer when a tree is planted, the tree is under too much stress and may not survive.

  • Container trees and balled and burlapped (B&B) trees perform best in the early fall.
  • Bare root trees perform best in spring (trees that have been stored without any soil around their roots).
  • Always sow seeds before the first freeze (or after the last freeze).

3. Decide on a level, open spot far from structures, electrical lines, and other utilities.

Make sure there is enough space for the tree to mature. Before you dig into the United States, dial 811. Someone will come out to mark your underground utility lines for free (or coach you through it over the phone) so you can avoid planting too close to them.

  • Most metropolitan cities have zoning rules about trees and digging holes. Check your local laws before planting to avoid penalties. You can plant without limitations if you reside outside the city limits.

4. Make sure the area you choose receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.

You should check your specifications because light requirements vary depending on the type of tree. However, to thrive, most trees need full daylight. Full sun is, at the very least, six continuous hours of sunlight every day.

How to Plant a Tree

Listed and explained below are the steps on how to plant a tree.

  • Water Thoroughly
  • Dig the planting hole
  • Cut the roots, massage the roots, and remove the nursery stake.
  • Position the tree in the hole’s middle.
  • Construct a soil berm.
  • Stake the tree.
  • Tie the tree.
  • Thoroughly water the tree!
  • Add Mulch.

Step 1: Water Thoroughly

The first step in planting a tree is to water the planting area thoroughly. On the day of planting, water the ground before you dig the hole. To make the soil easier to turn and to hydrate it, thoroughly water off the planting area. Additionally, the soil that is friendlier and reduces root stress for newly transplanted trees is moist.

Step 2: Dig the planting hole

To determine the depth to dig, first take the tree container out of the container and use the handle of your shovel to measure the root ball (the mass of dirt and roots that emerges from the container). The long offshoots at the top of the root ball are the initial lateral roots.

After planting, the lateral roots should be 1-2 in (2.5-5.1 cm) below the surface of the soil for optimum placement. The tree trunk’s beginning ought to be roughly level with the ground.

The roots will struggle to receive oxygen if you plant them too deeply and will finally suffocate. Additionally, water may collect at the tree’s base, weakening the bark and ultimately killing the tree. 3-4 times broader than the root ball, make the hole deep.

Shovel the excavated earth adjacent to the hole since you’ll be using the original soil to fill up the hole surrounding the root ball. It can be useful to lay down a tarp and then shovel the soil on top of it for simple backfilling. You can use a regular shovel now that the earth has been saturated.

It is also crucial that the root flare, which is where the trunk spreads and turns into roots, stays above the soil’s surface. Make a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole and tamp it down (push the earth firmly but not too tightly) to eliminate air pockets and stop the tree from settling.

Side view of man using a shovel to dig a hole for planting a tree

Step 3: Cut the roots, massage the roots, and remove the nursery stake.

This stage, according to our research, is crucial for strong tree performance. Ideal root growth should come directly from the root ball’s center. Work gloved fingers into the roots with great pressure to loosen and liberate them. Lay the tree on its side with the root ball on a tarp.

To avoid girdling, remove any circling roots (when circling roots get bigger, grow around the base of the tree and cut off the flow of water and nutrients to other parts of the tree). Cut the green ties now, and take the nursery stake out as well.

Source: The Sheridan Press

Step 4: Position the tree in the hole’s middle.

Make sure the depth and position are correct before adding dirt because the tree only gets one chance to be planted correctly. The root flare should be visible. Lift the tree out if it is too high or low, and add or remove soil as necessary. Find the optimal location for the tree by rotating it till the main branches are away from pathways or structures.

Holding the tree upright, surround the root ball with earth. To remove significant air pockets, gently tamp the soil surrounding the root ball with a shovel or the toe of your shoe. Step away from the root ball to avoid damaging and compacting the roots. It’s crucial to use the original soil for the backfill. Using soil amendments around the root ball can cause problems, like root rot.

Source: 8 Steps to Plant a Tree (Canopy)

Step 5: Construct a soil berm.

A soil berm is a mound that surrounds the tree and is 10 to 12 inches from the trunk; it forms a bowl or basin that can retain around 10 gallons of water. The outer edge of the root ball should be where the interior of the berm is. Up until the tree becomes established, it is crucial to keep the root ball moist.

Source: Planting – Landscape plants – Edward F. Gilman – UF/IFAS (Environmental Horticulture – University of Florida)

Step 6: Stake the tree.

Until the roots are formed, two “lodge pole” stakes are used to help the young tree grow straight up. Three stakes can be used to secure the tree from lawnmowers in yards and parks. The stake should be held straight and its point firmly 8 inches away from the trunk. To make it simple to attach the stake pounder, tilt the stake’s top over.

Wear a hard hat whenever you use the stake pounder (a very heavy tool with two handles that fit over the end of the stake). Until the stake is firmly in place and the pounder is easily removed pound. When taking the pounder out of the stake, proceed with extreme caution. Continue by placing a second or third stake evenly spaced around the tree.

Source: Tree Staking After Planting – When To Stake A New Tree In The Landscape (Gardening Know How)

Step 7: Tie the tree.

The lowest point on the trunk where the tree may be held upright with ties should be around 4 feet off the ground. Hold the tree’s trunk at the level where you intend to knot it; it should stand straight and not sag. With the tie, form a figure 8 pattern by wrapping one loop around the tree’s trunk and the other around it. Fix the tie’s ends to the stake with nails.

Tying stake to tree (Canopy)

Step 8: Thoroughly water the tree!

Put water in the basin, and if necessary, reinforce the berm. Until the plant is established, keep watering (once per week if there hasn’t been heavy rain).

Source: The correct way to water your trees (Love Your Landscape)

Step 9: Add Mulch.

Cover the soil 2-3 feet around the tree base with 3-5 inches of mulch (composed of wood chips, shredded bark, or leaves) to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil composition. Keep mulch 2-3 inches from the trunk and root flare of the tree to prevent insects and rodents from burrowing in the mulch and chewing on the bark.

Having discussed how to plant trees, it is necessary to add how to take care of the trees you have planted. It would be a waste of time for your tree to die or not flourish because you didn’t take care of it well.

Source: How To Mulch: Step-by-Step Guide (Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill)

How to Take Care of Trees

Here are ten suggestions for maintaining the health of your trees:

  • Select the appropriate tree
  • Early stake removal
  • Stay clear of the grass
  • Use proper water
  • Fertilize as necessary
  • Mulch
  • Prune carefully
  • Keep the roots safe
  • Guard the trunk
  • Eliminate pests

1. Select the appropriate tree

To ensure that any tree will provide you with years of happiness, this is both the first and one of the most crucial stages. Select a species that is well suited to your environment as well as the particular soil, light, and space requirements at the planting site.

2. Early stake removal

A tree’s trunk becomes stronger when it is allowed to sway in the wind. Use a two-stake arrangement (one on either side of the root ball) with a loose, flexible tie in between to support the trunk of a new tree if it is unable to stand on its own. As soon as the tree can support itself on its own, ideally, after a year, remove the stakes.

3. Stay clear of the grass

For oxygen, water, and nutrients, the grass encroaching on the tree trunk competes with it (and usually wins the competition). When grass is allowed to grow right up against the trunks of young trees, for instance, it frequently stunts their growth. Maintain a mulched, grass-free space around the trunk for optimal benefits.

4. Use proper water

Even established trees require watering during dry spells, but even young trees require regular watering. Water deeply (2-3 feet deep for mature trees) to just outside the drip line, soaking the entire root zone (an imaginary line from the outside of the tree canopy down to soil level).

If your tree is less than two years old, keep the soil moist. Water your tree with a garden hose for around 30 seconds if the soil becomes dry. Young trees require a lot of water so that their roots may take root in the ground. But be careful not to overwater it or you risk root rot. The soil should be barely damp, not drenched.

A garden trowel should be inserted into the ground and pulled out to see whether the soil is sufficiently moist. Check to see if the soil feels damp by putting your finger down in the hole. Your tree needs to be watered if it doesn’t.

Before you rewater the soil, let it partially dry up. Lawn sprinklers won’t be able to complete the task for you. Rarely do they water deeply enough, which might lead to trees with shallow roots. Drip irrigation or soil basins are preferable alternatives.

5. Fertilize as necessary

Don’t assume that trees require annual feeding. Until they become established, young trees may require occasional fertilizer, while mature trees frequently don’t require any feeding at all. Feed only if trees are growing poorly or have yellowing foliage. A soil test will confirm exactly which nutrients are needed.

Feed trees only if their growth is sluggish or their foliage is turning yellow. Which nutrients are required precisely will be determined by a soil test?

6. Mulch

Under the tree’s canopy, add 2-3 inches of organic mulch, such as pine straw or compost. Mulch increases soil texture, conserves moisture, cools the soil, and controls weed growth. Refill frequently.

7. Prune carefully

Thin branches known as sprouts or suckers take water and nutrients from the tree they are growing off of. Trim the sprouts as near to the ground or tree trunk as you can with sharp pruning shears. Use loppers to snip off any sprouts that are too thick to be removed with shears.

Making thinning cuts (removing complete branches at their origin) rather than heading cuts when pruning improves the structure and strength of your trees (cutting along the length of a branch or hat-racking). Cut down branches that are encroaching on your tree’s trunk. If your tree is younger than three years old, refrain from over-pruning.

After three years, you can begin annual tree pruning. Doing this will promote development during the winter. By doing this, you can keep your tree’s branches from crisscrossing and damaging its shape.

The branches should be chopped off directly outside the branch collar using pruning shears, loppers, or a hand saw. Consult a certified arborist if you have any large trees. Pruning correctly and pruning at the right time can make a huge difference.

8. Keep the roots safe

Never allow vehicles or large machinery to pass over a tree’s root system. They can harm roots and reduce soil oxygen availability by compacting the soil. Additionally, you shouldn’t alter the soil beneath tree canopies without first consulting a licensed arborist. Altering slopes can also weaken trees’ roots and cause them to die, which increases their vulnerability to storm damage.

9. Guard the trunk

Injuring the bark and trunk of trees with lawnmowers or whipping them with weedeaters weakens the trees fundamentally and invites insects and disease. Young trees are especially vulnerable, but plastic coverings are available at nurseries and garden centers to protect them. Better better, keep a 2- to 3-foot wide mulched ring around the tree that is clear of grass.

10. Eliminate pests

Trees can be severely harmed or weakened by insect pests including adult Japanese beetles, adelgids, and caterpillars.


From the above article – how to plant a tree, we have known that not only is it beneficial to our ecosystem and in combating climate change but, planting a tree is more inexpensive than destroying a full-grown tree. Also, the process of how to plant a tree is quite simple. So, why not plant a tree today.

How to Plant Trees – FAQs

How much does it cost to plant a tree?

A young tree under 10 feet tall typically costs between $50 and $100 to buy and plant. In most circumstances, little saplings can be planted for less than $50. Depending on your location and where the tree will be planted, a non-profit may plant a tree in a natural area on your behalf for a fee ranging from $1 to $10.

How much does a tree cost?

Typically, a fully mature tree costs between $100 and $500. When mature, specialty trees might cost $500 to $1,000 or more. If the responsibilities of delivery and planting the tree are contracted out, additional fees for those services could amount to several hundred dollars. The size, species, age, location of the store, and the number of trees being purchased all affect the final cost of a fully grown tree.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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