This step by step guide will help insure your tree planting success and give you suggestions for caring for you trees. Though I am not a tree expert by any means, we (Hubby and I) have planted trees from seed and seedlings as well as potted trees and have had success with all our methods. I hope it helps you as well! Enjoy!
Step 1: Location
The first step in planting any new tree on your property is to select the right location. You want to make sure that the tree's growth will not interfere with water, gas, sewer, telephone or electrical lines. When I say your tree's growth I mean it's roots as well as it's branches. It can be extremely costly to have someone come out to fix a broken water pipe or gas leak if you try to plant your tree in the wrong place. Check the area first. It's also a good idea to make sure that it won't interfere with your neighbors. You don't want any problems down the line forcing you to remove your beautiful tree.
You want to make sure the tree is not too close to your home as in the picture above. Have a tree planted too close to the home is not good for the tree nor is it good for the home. A trees roots can damage your foundation causing cracks and major costly repairs. Though it may look quaint to have a tree next to the house, don't do it.
Select a location where the trees future branches will not interfere with any electrical wires to the home. Your electrical company will tell you that a tree's branches have to be at least 5 feet away from any of their wires. If they get within that 5 foot range the electrical company may come and cut them back. So be warned.
Step 2: Getting to Work
Once you have selected the perfect location you can begin to dig. As you dig remove any obstacles that could interfere with your trees root growth such as sharp or large rocks, glass or anything else you may find. These can cut into your trees roots and damage them. This is also a good time to determine if you soil needs any nutrients added. Although new trees generally do not require additional nutrients when they are first planted, if you have hard clay soil or really sandy soil, you may want to add nutrients to your tree at a later date. Just take note right now and jot it down in a tree or planting diary to refer to at a later date.
Keeping a Gardener's Diary for all your plantings is a great idea for not only keeping track of dates, but also water and feeding schedules and noting any changes in the plants growth or insect problems. You can also keep track of harvesting produce or fruit.
Step 3: Digging Your Hole
Dig a hole 2 to 3 times the diameter of your trees root ball. This will give the tree room for it's roots to reach out and establish themselves. You don't want the sides of the hole to be too compacted either so taking a fork to loosen them a bit will help. Be sure to break up any dirt clods that you will be putting back in the hole for the same reason. Make a mound in the center of the hole for your tree to sit on. You'll want the outside edge of the hole to be slightly deeper as a place to store excess water for your new tree's drainage. You don't want the roots sitting in water too long or you'll lose your tree to root rot.
Step 4: Depth for You Tree
Once your tree is level with the ground just as it was when it was in the pot, remove the tree from the pot by gently tapping and squeezing the sides and bottom of the plastic container. It should come right out. Don't let it sit out too long in the wind or sun before planting or it will dry out. If the trees roots have been compacted tightly you can loosen them prior to planting to guarantee your trees roots will take hold in their new surroundings. Place the tree in the center of the hole on the mound and backfill the hole. Once the hole is filled tamp the soil down by stepping on it all around your tree. This will help eliminate any air pockets. You want the soil to be firm but not so compacted that your roots can't grow, then water your tree generously. How often you water your new trees will depend on the climate of the area you live in. Because we live in a very dry climate we will water our new trees every couple days for the first week and once a week after that until they are established on their own and can get ground water and rain water like all the other trees on the property.
Step 5: Enjoying Your New Trees.
As you can see in the very first photo of the introduction our baby tree is lined up with not only the trees on the other side of the drive, but also lined up with the corner tree in the back here. The middle tree in this photo is not only growing crooked but was not properly lined up when it was planted which is still fine for us. We still love it and will let it go. We aren't perfectionists.
We now have 2 new baby trees all lined up to flank our drive way. They should be beautiful when they grow to full height. I know it will take time. What do you think of them? Good luck on your tree planting projects!
You may find others who recommend staking young trees, but I don't recommend it. Your trees will grow stronger and straighter if they learn to stand up on their own against wind. Just like baby chick breaking out of their shells. It's a learning experience for you trees growth potential. Being staked and supported your tree will grow to depend on that. Just don't. If you find later on that your tree is growing crooked you can try this staking method to see if it helps. But I haven't seen a lot of success using them. If it was me I would just let the tree grow however it wants to, just like in natural settings like a forest, your tree will need very little help from you once it's established.