Planting Bare Root Plants by Madeline Sullivan
When you are thinking about planting a tree you need to consider how big your tree will grow. Avoid planting under or near overhead utility lines, and check for underground utilities, too. Then, make your decision to plant a nice tree that will grow healthy and vigorous for the length of its natural life.
If you have a bare-root tree it is best to plant it immediately to keep the fragile roots from drying out. If for some reason you cannot plant the tree quickly because of the soil conditions or the weather, put the tree in a sheltered, cool place and keep the roots moist. Once you start to plant your tree, take off the packing and get rid of all the packing materials that are around the roots. Soak the roots in water three to six hours. Most important, do not let the roots get dry.
Now you can start digging the hole to plant the tree. Make the hole much bigger around than seems necessary, so the roots will have plenty of room to spread-out and grow. Get rid of all the grasses in a 3 foot circular area. Then, turn the soil in an area up to three feet in diameter. This is to aid in root growth. Hold up the tree and position it in the center of the hole. Make sure that the tree is at the same depth it stood in the nursery. After planting, the root flare must be above the ground level. Again not crowding the roots, partially fill with the soil that was dug from the hole. Firm it around the lower roots. Do not add anything, such as peat moss or bark. Put in the remaining soil, firm the soil, but not tight. Make a water holding basin around the tree. Give the tree plenty of water. Let it soak in. Then, mulch to a depth of 2-4 inches with organic material such as wood chips or bark pieces. Put the mulch in an area three feet in diameter around the tree, but do not let it touch the trunk. Generously water the tree every week or ten days, in dry weather, for the first year. Water slowly and do it at the drip line of the trees canopy.
A young tree’s best friend is mulch. It retains moisture, prevents grasses from getting around the tree, insulates the soil, prevents soil compaction, keeps down lawnmower damage, and makes an aesthetic look to a yard or street. In the spring, remove some of the mulch that may be three to four inches deep. Two inches is good around the tree until it is well established. One of the main errors in planting that cause bare rooted trees to die is planting too deeply. As mentioned before in this article the root flare must be above the level of the soil after the soil has had time to settle.