How to plant a tree or shrub in 6 easy steps

Select trees that grow well in your climate and soil type. Be sure to consider the plant’s hardiness zone. Each species has a different tolerance to late spring and early fall frosts, flooding, and drought.

Container grown trees and shrubs can be planted anytime from spring until fall, as long as the ground is thawed. Keep trees and shrubs protected during transport and leave them in a shaded area until planting.



  • Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide as the container or root ball.
  • Completely remove all non-biodegradable packaging or, if your plant is in a tree basket with its roots wrapped in burlap, remove wire basket as well as the upper half of the burlap. In all cases, make sure not to damage the root ball.
  • Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and fill it one-third full with good quality planting soil. Place the tree in the hole. Make sure that the top of the rootball is flush with the top of the hole.
  • Incorporate the garden center’s recommended fertilizer into the soil you’ll use to fill the planting hole. Fill the hole with the soil-fertilizer mix, making sure you press firmly without compacting around the root ball.
  • Finish filing the hole with the remaining soil and build up a watering ring approximately 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) high all around the root ball. Fill the ring with water so it will drain down and water the roots.
  • Apply 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) in of mulch over the planting zone. Keep a 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) in radius around the trunk free of mulch.
  • Stake if necessary. Fix the trunk to the stake with a strap.


  • Repeat the same procedure as for large caliper trees and conifers.

Each tree and shrub species has specific watering requirements so water them according to the garden center’s instructions.

Use recommended fertilizers for trees and shrubs in spring and again at mid-season. Fertilizers help trees grow and withstand drought, disease, and insects.

Trees or shrubs planted in areas with little snow accumulation or at the edge of their hardiness zone may need good winter protection.


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