Tree planting is a long-term investment in the land and a gift to future generations. To grow successfully, however, trees need to get off to a good start, and proper tree planting is the first step. Planting and transplanting a tree is always stressful on the plant. When planting a tree, timing, method and initial care are crucial for success. The best time to plant a tree is in the late summer or early fall before the ground freezes, in mild climates, trees can be planted in the winter or early spring.
The first thing to consider when planting a tree is the location. The overall size of the tree, including the height and the span of the canopy, are important aspects to consider when choosing a type of tree and a location for the tree. Planting a tree too close to a house or structure will lead to difficulties as the tree matures. The location of underground sewer and water systems, basement walls and buried electrical wires should be noted as well. Some trees, such as willows, have very invasive root systems that will seek out water and damage sewer and water systems.
Preparing the planting site before tree planting is an important step for successful planting. The planting hole should be dug out in an area two to three times wider and twice as deep as the root ball of the young tree. Once the area has been dug out, enough soil is replaced into the bottom of the hole so that the tree can stand on its own with the base of the trunk level with the surrounding soil. The soil should be replaced a few handfuls at a time and patted down to eliminate air holes. Digging out such a large area loosens the soil, which allows the new roots to grow into the surrounding environment as they form.
Tree planting requires careful care for the first few weeks or months until the sapling gets established in its new environment. The roots should be soaked thoroughly within six hours of planting. The sapling then should be put on a drip system to keep the root ball consistently damp or watered once or twice a week, thoroughly soaking the area at each watering. Though consistent moisture is required, waterlogged soil is likely to suffocate a young tree. For successful tree planting and early growth, avoid fertilizing for the first one to two months.