Step 2: Measure the height of the root ball

measuring the height of the root ball of a new tree
Photo: Brian Wilder
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Stand the tree upright and untie the burlap from around the base of the trunk.

Use a cultivator or garden trowel to carefully remove the soil from the top of the root ball. Excavate only enough soil to expose the root flare, which is where the trunk spreads out into the individual roots.

Now, measure the height of the root ball from the ground to the top of the exposed root flare.

Tip: Don't untie the burlap beyond the root flare at this point.
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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