Planting Instructions

Upon receiving your trees, inspect them immediately to make sure they’re healthy. Check to make sure that the packing material is moist around the roots; if not, add a cup of water to each bag. If your site is not ready, store the trees in a cool place the north side of the house works well – and protect them from freezing Remember, it is extremely important that the root masses remain damp after you receive your trees and before you plant them.


It is important to properly prepare the ground before planting. Breaking up the subsoil and the hard pan allows roots to become established more quickly, Rototilling or discing breaks up the soil and helps reduce weed competition. While you must till or disc at least six inches into the ground, 12" to 18" is best. If you’re planting a row of trees, till this strip at least 4 ft. wide. If you’re working with heavy day, incorporate some peat moss or compost and ground gypsum (5-10 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.) into your planting bed.


Your planting site must be free of weeds and grass. Tree health and growth is greatly improved by the elimination of such competition for moisture. After planting, mulch the site with a strip of mulch at least 3 ft. wide and 3-4 inches deep. For single tree plantings, mulch 4-5 ft. all around the tree. Possible mulches include grass, leaves and wood chips. Be sure to let mulch material containing fresh wood chips age for 30 days in a pile before use.


For a dense windbreak, plant a single row of trees 5 ft. apart. A double row, planted in a staggered formation, is even better. Plant the rows 6-10ft. apart and space trees 6 ft. in each row. For a good visual screen, use the following suggestions: Willows, Poplars, Black Alders and Autumn Olives - 6ft. apart; Spruce and Pines - 10-15 ft. apart; Althea, Dogwoods, Cranberry Bushes and Arborvitae- 3-5 ft. apart.


Keep your trees in a bucket of water while planting so the roots don’t dry out. Make a hole large enough to accommodate the roots without bending or forcing them into the hole. Each hole should be approximately 18" in diameter and 15" deep. Make sure not to leave any air pockets around the roots. Then, gently pack the soil around each tree. If the roots are too long, do not circle them in the planting hole. It is better to cut these roots off where they begin to circle. For rootball-grown trees, make sure to remove the bag before planting, as it will not disintegrate. Cut the bag with a knife or razor blade on two sides and peel it off. For pot grown plants, remove the pot and make 1/2 inch incisions down four sides to prevent root spiraling. Most plants will have a color change on the stem. This represents the soil in the nursery. Plant to this same depth, unless you’re planting Willows, Poplars, Alders or Dogwoods. which are planted 3-6 inches deeper.


While soil and climate conditions vary, so does the amount of water necessary for healthy trees. Give your trees and shrubs plenty of water when you plant them. Soak the soil around the trees at least 12" deep with water. A slow drip system, like the one included in our mulch and trickle package, is the easiest, most cost-effective way to water. Soaker hoses also work well. Remember, the larger the area of mulch, the less water required. Willows, Alders and Red Osier Dogwoods prefer wet soil. Maples, Ashes, Oaks, Poplars, Cranberry Bushes, Arborvitae and Spruce prefer moist, not saturated, soil - too much water will kill these trees.

It is often quite impractical to keep up a regular watering program. That’s why it’s even more important to take steps at planting time to minimize competition for moisture. Elimination of weeds, good site preparation and mulching are the answer. If a garden hose or water truck is used, make sure that the water actually reaches the trees and does not run off the surface of the ground Too often, the roots of a tree don’t receive enough moisture, while the owner is convinced that he or she has watered the tree a lot. A garden hose should drip slowly onto the tree for at least an hour per plant.

"A little and often" may fill the purse, but it is an adage that can kill the tree when applied to a watering program. The water will never penetrate to the lower levels and the tree will have shallow roots.


Trees and shrubs are sensitive to chemical fertilizers. If such fertilizers are used, they should be applied at least two months before planting. Organics such as manure or compost are excellent alternative forms of fertilization when used in moderation and incorporated into the soil. Our slow release fertilizer can be safely applied at planting time to the soil surrounding the trees. Push these 2-3" into the soil, 1 ft. away from the main stem. Use 3-5 tablets on smaller shrubs and 6-10 tablets on trees. After the first year, an application of a balanced fertilizer (12-12-12) early in the spring may increase growth. Apply 1/2 lb. of fertilizer per tree, placed under the tree in a 5ft. circle. Do not put any fertilizer in the planting hole.


If desired, you may prune any time from January through mid-July. Late summer or fall pruning is not suggested because the cuts may not heal properly.


From the time of planting, it’s important to maintain one main stem. Find the tallest and straightest main leader. Prune other strong shoots that are competing with the main stem 1 ft. shorter than the main leader. Prune off all small branches (from the ground up) to about one-half the height of the tree. For example, if you have a main leader that’s 6 ft. tall, you should prune all the lower branches below 3 feet. Continue this process until you have a trunk with no branches up to your desired height. Remove any small sprouts on the main trunk frequently throughout the growing season. You may wish to "top out" the trees when they reach 15-20 ft. in height to make a broader and bushier top. Do this by cutting the top 2-3 ft. out of the tallest growing point


Landowners have to deal with certain problems, the greatest of which is protection from animals such as cattle, sheep, deer, goats, horses, possums, rabbits, etc. Suitable electric fences have been devised to deter almost all animals. Because they are inexpensive, easy to erect and effective, they are the method of choice for protection of tree stocks.