Planting a Tree | 5 Easy Steps to a Successful Tree Transplant

February 12, 2020

Planting a tree is an extremely rewarding investment if the proper steps are taken during the process. Trees are not cheap to purchase, so by following some proper professional advice, you can successfully plant new trees and have them thriving in no time. Improper care, even during the actual planting process can lead to a tree that simply doesn’t adapt and dies off. Just like people, trees experience stress during a “big move” and in new environments. So follow these steps and you should have a healthy, happy, established tree in no time.  


The first thing you need to consider is the location of the tree (or trees) that you are wanting to plant. Do you want some small little trees to spruce up the front garden or a giant oak that will someday be home to a tree house and tire swing? These trees each require totally different placement for not only survival, but to ensure they don’t cause any damage as they grow. 

The location will help you decide what type of tree to plant and set you up for success from the start. Another great way to decide what type of tree to plant is to take a look at what is already growing in the area and plant the same types of trees. If there are already maple trees covering the neighbourhood, then there is a good chance that you have the perfect soil and environment for them to do well. 


This is an extremely important step when you are planting a tree. If you dig before calling your local utility company, there could be big problems. Likewise, if you plant in a location free of underground lines, but don’t pay attention to lines above, you could again cause a big problem. Contact your local line locator company to ensure you are digging safely and pay close attention to the type of tree you are planting, how tall it will potentially grow and what’s going to be above it. 


Just like flowers, veggies and other plants, there is an ideal time for planting a tree that will play a factor in whether or not it thrives. Trees are best planted in late fall after the last leaf drop or in late spring before other trees begin to bud. 


Step 1. 

The first step to actually getting the tree into the ground is digging your hole to the appropriate depth and width. Typically the hole needs to be 2-3 times wider than the size of the root ball on the tree, but no deeper than the root ball. Locate the “trunk flare” which is at the base of the tree where the trunk flares and starts into the roots. The trunk flare should be left above the ground. 

* PRO TIP* Do not dig your hole too deep. Tree roots live near the surface of the ground and if they are placed too deeply, they will die from lack of oxygen.

Step 2. 

Before placing the tree in the hole, gently separate the root ball and spread out the roots. If you plant the tree and the roots remain in a ball, they will continue to grow that way and it will eventually kill the tree. After spreading out the roots, place the tree in the appropriate sized hole and have someone hold it steady. Stand back and look at the tree from all angles to ensure its standing straight. 

Step 3. 

Fill the hole around the tree back up with dirt. This process requires you to be gentle with the roots while still packing the dirt in firmly to support the tree. If you lightly water periodically throughout the filling process, it will eliminate air pockets in the soil. Air pockets can cause the roots to dry out and die off. 

* Pro Tip* Trees often experience “transplant shock”. This leads to slow growth following a transplant. But proper handling, being gentle with roots and proper after care can help a tree quickly recover. 

Step 4. 

Place mulch around the bottom of the tree. Mulch helps the ground to retain moisture and helps prevent invasive weeds or grass from taking over the trees area. 

Step 5. 

Secure your tree if necessary, and consider some type of animal barrier. Many animals such as deer, beavers and moles love to nibble on young trees, but this is damaging to a tree that is not well established and may cause your tree to die. Using some kind of cage or barrier around the tree will prevent animals from snacking on it and give it a chance to grow. 


Once you are finished planting a tree, be sure you don’t just leave it. Young trees still require some love and care (just like people and other plants). Make sure your tree is getting enough water, but isn’t flooded. Take into consideration the amount of rain and water it accordingly. Look for changes in leaf colour; if the ends begin to brown it means the tree is getting too much water or not enough. 

Keep an eye out for any wildlife and steer clear of the trunk with the weed-whacker. If your tree already has leaves when it’s planted, then keep an eye out for any potential pests moving in on it. Paying close attention to your new tree for a few seasons after planting will help you identify a problem and fix it before the tree dies.

Planting a tree is not only wonderful for the environment, but it adds such a nice touch to your yard or landscaping. When done properly, your sapling will thrive and grow into a tall, healthy, strong tree. 

When your tree gets big and strong and needs trimming, or if you need to relocate one of your trees be sure to give us a call!