Planting FAQs

Q: Why should I plant a tree in my yard?

Planting trees is the most natural way to add value to your property, reduce heating and cooling costs, lend your landscape aesthetic appeal, and nurture the surrounding wildlife. Read “Why Plant A Tree?” to learn more about the benefits of a planting trees in your backyard.

Q: How do I know which tree species is ideal to plant in my region?

Refer to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard tool for a fun and easy way to determine which tree is perfect for your home. This tool will take your hardiness zone, personal interests, and growing conditions into account when generating recommendations.

Q: When is the best time of year to plant a tree?

Spring and fall were once considered the only planting seasons in temperate climates. Over time, methods have been developed to extend the planting season. Now trees are planted throughout the year unless the soil is frozen. Some species, however, seem to do best when planted in the traditionally favored spring season, such as many magnolias.

Q: What are the most common tree planting mistakes?

One the most common mistakes is poor planning! Before your plant your first tree, visualize your “dream landscape” and work backwards to ensure you have adequate space and resources for your project.

Inexperienced homeowners also sabotage their trees by planting them in narrow, deep holes. This suffocates the tree, and impedes growth and nourishment. In general, the hole should be a minimum of 1.5 times the width of the root ball and have sloping sides and an undisturbed base. The size of the planting hole will need to be increased if your soil is poor or compacted.

Q: Should I fertilize my tree after planting?

Fertilizing is not recommended at the time of planting. However, a robust plant health care (PHC) program will help your tree canopy thrive in the years to come. Ask an arborist or a professional tree care company for recommendations and a fertilization schedule.

Q: Where can I find quality tree care?

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees to plant. The Tree Care Industry Association has a vast network of professional arborists and tree care companies to choose one. Find tree service in your ZIP code.

Q: What equipment do I need to plant a tree?

A long-handled shovel with a sharp blade. You can file the edges to cut through the grass and soil.

Q: Where should I buy a tree? How much do they cost?

For the best growing success, purchase a good quality tree from a nursery or grower. A good quality root system, as well as above ground growth, is important for long-term tree health. Ask your county extension office for the names of reputable growers in your area. Avoid season-end trees marked down in price. The market price of trees will vary by area.

Use the following checklist (adapted from A300 Part 6 Planting & Transplanting standard) to help you select a superior quality tree:

• General health
• Structure of tree (i.e. – Does it have a strong central leader and well-spread branches?)
• Trunk flare and condition (i.e. – Is the trunk flare visible and free of decay? The trunk flare is at the bottom of the trunk where it flares out and widens to roots. Look for the first large root if you are having trouble finding the trunk flare)
• Crown shape
• Size and quality of rootball (i.e. – Is the rootball large enough and stable enough to support the tree? Container plants should not be pot-bound)
• Foliage colors and density (i.e. – Is there adequate foliage and does it appear health?)

Use TCIA’s search tool to hire a professional arborist or tree care company.

14 thoughts on “Planting FAQs

  • JUdith Murphy

    I have a Zelkova planted about 3 years ago. It is surrounded by rocks. Is this a bad idea? A friend suggested that the rocks can overheat and damage roots. Any advice welcome.

    Judy Murphy

  • Sometimes to avoid shock transplant it is a good idea let the roots settle before burying.

  • Great and solid advice. I will recommend these tips to our customers in and around Pasadena.
    BIL Landscaping Pasadena provides landscape design & landscaping services throughout the Pasadena area. BIL Landscaping Pasadena is able to create the garden of your dreams and maintain it to the highest standards

  • Very interesting article. I’ve tried to care for my trees but find it challenging sometimes. This info will come in handy.

  • Great points you make. It’s up to us in the industry to set and keep the standards. Thank you.


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