Trees are wonderful to grow, and, if treated properly, will most probably live longer than whoever planted it. Depending on the species of a particular tree, a tree can serve an exorbitant number of services. However, planting a tree must be done correctly to ensure a long and healthy life.
The first thing you need to know is when to plant a tree. The deciding factor when determining when to plant a tree is usually the climate in which you hope to plant the tree. New trees need time to root and acclimatize before they will be able to survive a frost winter or a scorching summer. The best time, therefore, to plant a new tree is in moderate temperature when it is neither too hot nor too cold and there will be sufficient rain. In terms of seasons, spring or fall would be the best time to plant your new tree in most climates. This will give the new tree the best opportunity to root and acclimatize before the onset of either the summer or the winter. In the southern states, however, planting in the winter can also result in strong and healthy trees, simply because the southern states generally experience a more mild winter than do the northern states.
When planting the actual tree, it is very important not to dig too deep or too narrow a hole. Obviously if the hole in which you plan to place the tree is too wide or too shallow, that is also clearly not ideal; but as a general rule, people seem to dig holes when planting trees that are too deep, too narrow, or both. If the tree is planted too deep in the ground, the roots will not have access to sufficient oxygen, thereby not giving the tree ideal conditions in which to thrive. The problem with a hole in which you wish to place a tree being too narrow is that the tree's root structure will not have sufficient room to expand to properly be able nourish and anchor the tree. This too is clearly not the ideal conditions for your new tree.
The rule for digging a hole in which you wish to place a tree is that the hole should not be any deeper than the soil in which that particular tree was originally grown. The width of the hole should be at least three times the width of the ball of roots at the bottom of the tree. If the tree you are planting does not have this ball of roots, but rather regular bare roots, the width of the hole should be three times the width of the roots. This will give the roots of the tree sufficient room to expand properly.
If you are trying to plant the tree in tough clay-like soil, it is vital to not create barriers when digging the hole. Barriers are created when the sides and the bottom of a hole are very smooth and hard, thus the name barriers. When you create barriers, or glaze, the passage of water through the dirt to the tree becomes extremely difficult. There are two things you can do to fix up this potential problem. One thing you can do is simply soften up the barriers with your shovel by scraping the edge of your shovel along the barriers. Another thing you can do is pile up a little bit of dirt in the middle of the hole so that the middle of the hole is slightly higher than the rest of the bottom of the hole. This will prevent water from pooling at the roots. Rather, water would pool to the sides of the tree where there is lower ground.
If you are planting a tree that does not have a ball of roots, but rather has bare roots, there a number of things it is important to be conscious of. The most important thing is that without the ball of roots, your bare-rooted tree will not last too long out of topsoil. It is vital to get that tree into topsoil as quickly as possible after purchasing it. It is very worthwhile to inspect the roots of a bare-rooted tree before you purchase it. You should check to ensure that the roots are moist and have many long fine root-hairs. These are both signs of healthy roots, and since it is a bare-rooted tree, you need to be sure that it is still alive and healthy and strong.
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