Reader Dan Staley added a few tips to my earlier post on how to plant a tree. his advice is crucial for making sure your tree is planted perfectly:
The instructions [in the blog post] are skewed a little bit away from beginners.
To help them understand the process, may I suggest the following additions:
Measure the height of the root ball to determine depth of planting hole, gently remove soil from the top of the root ball until you find a root branching off of the trunk where the trunk appears to get wider. The depth of the hole should allow the first major root to sit 1 to 2 inches above the soil line when root ball is placed in the planting hole.
o The reason being the root flare should be above grade.
Dig saucer-shaped planting hole, three-times the root ball width. Straight sides limit root expansion, so to get your tree off to a fast start, slope the sides of the hole.
Use the soil removed from the planting hole to backfill, taking care not to pile soil up against the base of the trunk. As the hole is backfilled, use water to settle the soil around the root ball and to collapse any large air pockets in the soil. Do not compact the soil by stepping on it. Amendments to the backfill – such as compost – are not necessary and can be detrimental in some cases.
o The reason being you don’t want differential settling, nor do you want soil against the trunk.
Keep up the good work!