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How To Plant a Tree Like a RYAN Pro

A Ryan Lawn & Tree expert shares five tips for proper planting

Even when you have committed to planting the perfect new tree in your yard, actually planting it can be intimidating. How can you ensure the tree you purchase will grow to be a healthy addition to your yard?

Spencer Wicks, an ISA certified arborist with Ryan Lawn & Tree, offers five basic tips to ensure the new tree thrives in your yard.

Select the right tree for the right spot.

Identify the best place for a tree and do your research to find which variety will be well suited for that location. Think about size, height, and growth pattern.

Making a visit to your local nursery or consulting with a certified arborist are both good ways to get guidance on selecting the right type of tree to meet your goals.

Prepare the site.

Before you dig, remember to have utility lines located and marked so you will know where you can safely break ground.

Digging the right size hole with the proper depth and width is very important.

“A common problem with tree plantings is the tree gets planted too deep,” Spencer says.

A general rule is to dig the hole 1-2 times the width of the root ball and deep enough that the root flare (point where the trunk of the tree widens and becomes roots) remains above the soil surface.

Plant the tree.

The goal is to get the tree in the hole with as little disruption to the root system as possible. This often involves removing twine, burlap or the wire basket from around the root ball. Taking these things off with as little interference as possible is ideal.

If the tree resided in a container, lightly rough-up the outer part of the root ball to keep the roots from circling in an unhealthy growth pattern.

Adding amendments to the soil when planting improves soil conditions. Spencer recommends mycorrhizae products which increase the tree’s root development, moisture retention and reduces transplant shock.

Once the tree is properly placed, backfill the hole by layering soil around the root ball. Carefully tamp the soil down to eliminate air pockets. Repeat the process until the hole is filled. Watering around the root ball will also help the soil to settle in.

Mulch and stake the tree.

Mulching around the tree helps moderate soil temperature, retain moisture and protect from mechanical damage from a lawnmower. Cover about 2-3 feet around the base of the tree with about 1-2 inches of mulch, being sure to keep the mulch away from the trunk and root flare.

Stake the tree to keep the young tree upright until roots are established. Spencer recommends keeping the stakes on for about a year. After that time year, the stakes should be removed as keeping them on too long can disrupt the development of the tree.

Follow-up with proper aftercare.

Get into a watering schedule right away, Spencer says. This involves noting the type of soil the tree is planted in and how much water it will need. Trees may also need supplemental water during dry winter months. The key is to water less often and more deeply.

New trees can benefit from fertilization within the first year of planting to jump start growth.

Following these tips will help guide you through proper tree planting. For more questions about identifying the right tree, preparing the site or other proper planting techniques, contact Ryan Lawn & Tree to receive insight from trained arborists.