• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook explains how to plant a tree in poor soil.


    1 Select spot for tree away from house and overhead wires.
    2 Measure diameter of the plastic tree pot.
    3 Dig a hole four times wider than pot and as deep as the pot.
    4 Add compost to topsoil; mix with shovel.
    5 Set tree in hole; lift up and pull off pot.
    6 Rotate best face of tree toward street with main branches parallel with house.
    7 Scratch root ball with cultivator to loosen roots.
    8 Add starter fertilizer and superphosphorous to topsoil.
    9 Backfill around tree with amended topsoil.
    10 Form 4-inch-high ring of soil around tree, fill with water.
    11 Stake tree with wires; wrap garden hose around wire to protect tree bark.
    12 Add 2 or 3 inches of bark mulch; keep mulch away from trunk.
    13 Wrap drip-irrigation bag around base of tree; fill bag with water.
    14 Refill the bag with water twice every week until the root system is established.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      No green thumb required, but you still must dig a hole
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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • pointed shovel
        used to dig tree hole
      • hand cultivator
        Three-prong cultivator
        used to loosen root ball
      • pickax
        used to remove rocks from hole
      • 100-foot tape measure
        Tape measure
        for measuring diameter of tree pot
      • sledge hammer
        for pounding in tree stakes
      • wire strippers
        Wire cutter
        for cutting wire used to stake up tree

      Shopping List

      1. Tree

      2. Wheelbarrow

      used to hold sod and dirt dug from site

      3. Topsoil

      4. Tarp

      used to hold topsoil

      5. Compost

      is added to topsoil

      6. Starter fertilizer

      is added to topsoil

      7. Superphosphorous

      is added to topsoil

      8. Wooden stakes

      for supporting tree

      9. Wire

      for tying stakes to tree

      10. Short garden hose sections

      placed around wire to protect tree

      11. Garden hose

      used to fill drip-irrigation bag

      12. Drip-irrigation bag