Planted - Black Forest Together

Tree Planting Techniques
Mark J. Platten
CSU Extension Director, Teller County
Planting Seedlings
• Best time is early spring before they break
dormancy – beginning of March to end of
May. Late fall, October is also a good time.
– This allows the most time for roots to develop.
• CSFS sells seedlings in both potted and bare
root stock.
• Looking into grants to help assist over the
next few years.
Seedling in a Soil Container
• Ideal to plant as soon as possible.
– Keep in a cool, protected area and harden off if
– Keep moist, but not saturated
• Follow proper spacing – based on species.
• Keep seedlings protected while
Planting Seedlings in a Soil Container
1. Dig a hole 6-12” in diameter and to a depth where the
root collar is slightly above ground level.
2. Remove seedling without breaking the root ball.
3. Place in hole.
4. Pull loose soil over roots, filling the hole halfway.
5. Lightly tamp soil, and backfill remainder of the way
(don’t add topsoil, peat, or fertilizer.)
6. Water at rate of 1-2 gallons per seedling – this settles
the soil so no additional tamping is needed.
7. Place 2” of organic mulch around seedling.
8. You may want to put tree tubes or repellants on trees.
Bare Root Seedlings
• Ideal to plant as soon as possible.
– Keep roots protected from air, sunlight, and drying
• Follow proper spacing.
• Keep seedlings protected while
planting in a bucket of polymer or
soil slurry.
Planting bare root trees
Generally, at least 2
structural roots within
the top 1-3”, measured
3-4” from trunk.
Top of soil 1” above grade
with backfill soil tapering away
Spread roots
Shallow saucer-shaped planting hole, 3 times root spread
**Follow steps 4-7 for container seedlings to complete planting
Transplanting Trees
• Best timing is spring and fall
– Keep soil in place with burlap or other material.
– Generally only capture 5-20% of small root mass.
• Follow proper spacing.
• Follow proper planting techniques identified on the
following slides.
• Generally, for each inch of
tree diameter, it takes a full
year to establish the roots.
Step 1. Determine depth of planting hole
Epidemic of planting too deep
Trunk girdling roots
o Caused by planting
too deep
o May show up 12-20
years after planting
o May be below soil level
o Trunk girdling roots kill more landscape
trees than all other causes combined.
Root ball rises 1-2” above grade
 Imperative that top of root ball comes to
 No backfill soil over top of root ball
 1” diameter tree -- 1” above grade
 2-4” diameter tree -- 2” above grade
Tree too deep in root ball
 Correct in the planting process
1. Adjust depth of planting hole
2. Remove excess soil during the
backfill step
Step 2. Saucer shaped planting hole, 3x
root ball diameter
Brings roots up when low soil oxygen limits growth.
When dug with an auger
o During backfill, cut back
sides, creating saucer shape
On slopes, plant “out-of-hill”
“In to Hill”
Step 3. Set tree in place, removing
Container grown nursery stock
a. Lay tree on side in
or near planting hole
b. Wiggle or cut off
c. Do NOT pick up tree
by its trunk.
Container grown nursery stock
To deal with circling
roots, shave off the
outer 1-1½” of the root
ball with a knife, saw,
or pruners.
Balled and Burlap Trees
Remove all wrapping (fabric, twine, wire
basket, etc.) on upper 12 inches or upper
2/3, which ever is greater.
Step 4. Backfill with site soil
 Lightly firm
 Best to water-pack soil
 Do not stomp or pack tightly
Top of root ball rises
1-2” above grade
No backfill soil
top of root ball
Backfill soils
knees, tapering
Amending back fill with organic matter
o Routine procedure
o Sale of soil amendments = good marketing
o Arborists divided on benefits
o Some always amend
o Others never amend
o No more than 5%
o No fertilizer added
o Adds growth to top
instead of roots.
Why Mulch?
• 400% increase in fine root
development under mulch
compared to grass
• 20% faster top growth on mulched
• Protects trunk from lawnmower
• Don’t put mulch around the trunk,
it invites voles and disease.

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