Tree Planting And Transplanting

A well-planned tree planting can improve your property. It can create a visual impact, provide privacy, and more. But poorly planted trees often fail to thrive.

A newly planted tree will typically establish its roots more quickly if you plant it in the right place. A new tree needs full sun to thrive, while a shade tree can do well with only dappled sunlight. If you need tips, talk to PRV Tree Service experts.

tree planting


Often, homeowners choose to plant large trees in an attempt to quickly fill in and beautify their landscapes. But larger trees are more expensive and require a lot of water during their growing season – 10 to 20 gallons per week per inch of trunk diameter, to be exact. Smaller trees, on the other hand, can make a similar landscape impact with less water use and lower maintenance.

The size of a tree when it is planted will influence its mature height and crown spread. Trees that are too big for the planting site often experience excessive shading, need a great deal of pruning, and can even interfere with overhead powerlines. For this reason, the best way to avoid future conflicts is by carefully assessing the space available and choosing an appropriately sized tree.

If you’re considering transplanting a larger tree, be sure to select one with a high enough caliper (trunk width) and a broad, spreading root system. It’s also important to consider the soil conditions in the area. For example, some trees grow more extensively in loose, well-drained soils than they do in tight clay soils.

For homeowners who want to move large trees, it is best to work with a professional arborist or experienced landscaper. However, it is possible to transplant many small ornamental and shade trees up to 16 inches in caliper with a shovel and a little preparation.

When you’re ready to transplant a tree, it’s best to do so in late winter or early spring while the weather is cold. Evergreens, in particular, benefit from being moved when they’re dormant so they can continue to establish roots throughout the summer.

In addition, when it comes to larger established trees, it’s always more cost-effective to hire professionals to dig and lift the tree for you rather than try to transplant it yourself. You can expect to pay upwards of $1,500, even if you’re moving it within the same yard, and $5,000 or more if it’s going to another site miles away. That’s a price that’s worth paying to ensure the long-term health of your property and its trees.


Trees need well-drained soil that provides enough water for healthy growth but does not become too wet or compact. Soil is a complex mixture of minerals, dead and living organisms, air, and water. It is one of our planet’s most important natural resources.

When planting trees, make sure the ground is free of grass and weeds that compete with the roots for water. Also, the soil should be loose and not clumped together – this will provide more oxygen for the roots. This can be achieved by tilling, digging a hole, and then backfilling the area around the root ball or by using a spade to create a slit in the topsoil.

After the holes are prepared, moisten the soil with your watering hose to reduce transplant shock. A hole that is three times wider but no deeper than the current root mass will give the lateral roots room to spread out and become established in their new environment.

Before setting the tree in the hole, check that the root flare (the top of the root ball or a dark soil mark on bare-root plants) is level with the surface of the soil. Covering the root flare will prevent the tree from getting enough water and could result in death.

If you are planting a young tree, you may want to consider taking it, especially if the site has windy conditions. For mature or older trees, staking is usually not necessary as the roots will eventually anchor the plant.

During the first year, avoid fertilizing a newly planted tree as this can interfere with its natural root development and weaken it. Have a soil test done to determine if you need to add any nutrients.

For trees that are planted in the fall, mulch in early spring to help the soil retain moisture and regulate temperature. Mulch helps to prevent weeds from competing with the roots for water and nutrients. Avoid putting too much mulch up against the base of the trunk as this can choke the plant and encourage collar rot.


Mulching helps to prevent erosion around newly planted trees and shrubs, suppresses weeds, conserves moisture, improves soil structure, adds organic matter, and provides nutrients. However, improper mulching can lead to a variety of problems.

Over-mulching is a common cause of transplant failure of azaleas, rhododendrons, dogwoods, and holly. It also causes problems with maples, birch, hemlocks, and other shade-loving trees and shrubs. Over-mulching is probably the number one reason that a tree dies shortly after planting.

Mulch should be kept back from the trunk of the plant (the drip line) and should not be piled up to the point that it begins to girdle the trunk or roots. A layer of mulch 2-3 inches deep is sufficient.

Wood chips, bark, leaf mold, compost, and other organic materials are recommended as they slowly break down to provide valuable organic matter and nutrient content to the soil. These materials are also less expensive than synthetic and more environmentally friendly than dyed mulches, which can bleed into the ground and damage the environment.

Avoid hay and straw, which contain weed seeds and will need to be frequently replaced as they rot, and plastic and geotextiles, which are not biodegradable and may leach into the soil. Avoid using a thick layer of mulch because this can lead to suffocation of the root system, especially in poor soils.

Mulch that is piled up too high can choke the microbial, earthworm, and insect populations in the soil, and it will keep poorly drained soils too wet and encourage root rot development. Wet, decaying bark also provides a habitat for fungal and bacterial diseases that can enter the trunk through wounds and infect the roots. These pathogens can encircle the trunk and kill the inner bark, starving the roots of essential carbohydrates. Continuous moisture can also inhibit respiration and slow the transfer of photosynthates from the leaves to the roots. This is particularly a problem in humid climates. Also, the constant wetness can prevent gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide) exchange between living tissues in the trunk and the atmosphere.


When transplanting a young tree, it is important to use staking to keep it upright until the root system grows out into the soil. This is especially important for evergreens, deciduous trees with large canopy limbs, and other high-maintenance specimens. Using staking allows the roots to establish properly, which in turn helps the tree to grow and mature and perform the many functions it is tasked with providing oxygen, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife.

When purchasing trees from a nursery or having them installed by a landscape company, it is common to have the young plant staked in its container to keep it stable and upright. However, when the young tree is planted at home or in a commercial environment, these stakes should be removed. These stakes were placed in the container by the wholesaler to hold top heavy plants upright in their containers and can cause damage or girdle the stem of a newly planted tree.

Depending on where the tree is being planted and how windy it is, it may require staking to ensure proper establishment. To properly stake a young tree, drive stout wooden stakes that are at least 2 inches by 2 inches and 5 feet long into the ground. For windy areas, metal fence stakes can also be used. To tie the tree to its stake, use a thick strap or rubber ties. Do not use wire passed through a hose, as it can damage or cut into the bark of a young tree. It is also recommended to use a spacer between the tree trunk and the tie to prevent it from rubbing against the stake and causing damage.

It is recommended that staking only be done for a few months, or one growing season at most. After this, it is critical to remove all staking materials so that the roots can develop freely and the trunk taper can form properly. Staking young saplings and even mature older trees too long can stunt their growth, result in girdling, and weaken the tree. For these reasons, it is essential to consult with a professional to determine whether or not staking will be beneficial for the individual situation at hand.

Gladys Layman