First consider your plant material in terms of the site--be sure you don’t have anything that’s gonna grow too high or too wide. You don’t want your trees to grow into overhead power lines or to encroach on nearby plants already in place. Set your plant on the ground in the location where you plan to get it into the ground, and dig a temporary line around the plant to layout the size of the hole you’ll be digging.
Scoop off the sod and set that aside. Then dig out the material where your plant will go into the ground--we want the hole to be a little bit deeper than the depth of the rootball that will be set into the hole. If you dig a little too deep, that’s okay because we can mix in some backfill material to bring the plant up to the proper planting depth. Set your plant in place to see how your depth is coming along. We want to mix in a good organic supplement to the backfill material. Mix it in well with the soil that you’ve removed.
If the plants you’re working with are balled and burlapped, loosen the top of the burlap around the base of the tree and pull it back a bit before you add the backfill. You can leave the burlap around the rootball in the ground because this burlap will decay into the soil over time--however, if the “burlap” around your rootball is plastic, remove this entire bag from the planting hole as it will not deteriorate, and will thus stunt the root development. The plants we’re working with today are in containers, so we need to tap around the outside of the container to loosen the rootball and make it easier to remove from the container. Set the bare rootball into the hole to make sure the top of the soil of the rootball is even with the top of the soil surrounding the hole.
When the plant is at the proper depth in the soil, start the backfill. Come in evenly around the rootball, adding in backfill and tamping it in as you go. We want the rootball to be wedged firmly into the soil. Come up about halfway and then water sufficiently so that you are soaking all the way to the bottom of the rootball. Add more backfill on up to the top of the hole, tamping in the material as you add it. Finish off the top of the planting site with a layer of mulch. Water again thoroughly and periodically, especially during the first year. Congratulations! You just planted a tree--you’ve got a lot to look forward to!
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