Tree Planting Instructions for Burlapped Trees
1. Trees are best planted in a saucer-shaped hole. Dig an area three the diameter and as deep as the root ball. The wider you prepare your hole, the more you encourage root growth. The hole should have sloping sides, and don’t disturb the soil at the bottom of the hole.
2. Mark the depth of the root ball to make sure the flare of the trunk, known as the ‘root collar’ above ground level. If the trunk is below ground, this could cause trunk rot later.
3. When moving the tree into the hole, handle it by the root ball. Don’t lift the tree soley by the trunk, as the root ball can separate from the trunk and kill the tiny rootlets that are the trees water and nutrient absorbers
4. Use wire cutters to cut as much as possible wire basket and peel it away. Its ok if you leave a little on the bottom. Remove the burlap and twine from the sides also. Don’t worry about regular burlap under the root ball. It will biodegrade over time as the roots expand.
5. Pack the soil back around the root ball. You can use a bit of soil amendments and mineral additives, but don’t go crazy here, the tree needs to adapt to natural soil. It will be bonding to and nurturing the fungus and bacteria in the native soil to manufacture its own nitrogen and mineral compounds. Fill soil to just below the ‘root collar’ (trunk flare)
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6. Create a water-holding trench around the tree and give it a good watering. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch 3 inches deep covering the entire area of backfilled soil, keeping the mulch away from the trunk.
7. The tree needs water because its root system is currently compacted and small. Generously water the tree every 4-7 during the first year and a half. Water slowly at the dripline. Dont forget to water it at least weekly in the second season after planting, as it reestablishes its root system after transplant.
8. As the tree grows into its third year, you may need to prune for structural integrity and straight growth. This is covered in a later post on Structural Pruning of Young Trees.
For help choosing a tree for Zone 6, visit here: NYC Parks Dept. Street Tree Species Guide