Overview

planting-a-tree diagram
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
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Planting a tree isn't particularly difficult because you don't need any special tools. With a shovel, tape measure, and garden hose, plus the strength and patience to dig a hole, it should take only a few hours. Planting it right, however, does require some attention to detail. Here, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook shows how to add a young shade tree to a sunny front yard.

Surprisingly, tree planting is often done incorrectly, says Roger. "I see improperly planted trees all the time, many of them put in by professional landscapers."

The most common mistake is burying the entire root ball because the hole is too deep. Not watering enough after planting is another common mistake. Roger suggests tying drip- irrigation bags to the tree and refilling them everyday.

(Click "enlarge this image" to read illustration labels.)
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    Tools List

    • pointed shovel
      Pointed shovel
    • pickax
      Pickax
    • bolt cutter
      Bolt cutters,
      to cut wire basket on root ball
    • 16-foot tape measure
      Tape measure
    • bypass pruners
      Bypass pruners,
      to trim broken branches
    • tarp
      Plastic tarp,
      to hold dirt shoveled from hole
    • strapping
      Strapping
    • paint sprayer
      Spray paint,
      to mark the hole outline
    • utility knife
      Utility knife,
      to cut away the burlap
    • hand cultivator
      Cultivator,
      to loosen the root ball

    Shopping List

    1. TREE

    2. 3-4-3 FERTILIZER

    3. SUPERPHOSPHATE

    4. PLASTIC TARP

    to hold dirt shoveled from hole



    5. STRING

    6. WOOD STAKE

    to tie off string



    7. DRIP-IRRIGATION BAGS

    8. SPRAY PAINT

    to mark the hole outline