placing and digging the hole for a tree
& Burlapped Trees (B&B)
landscape sized trees are usually balled and burlapped, or "B&B" as
they are referred to in the landscaping business. Due
to the weight of soil root balls (soil
averages 100 lbs a cubic foot) moving and planting a large
can be a daunting task usually best to professionals with
experience and equipment.
B&B trees at a nursery in the spring
Burlapped trees should be moved by lifting the root ball
instead of pulling on the trunk - it's easy to damage the
small roots on a balled plant.
If you are transporting a tree with
leaves on it, wrap the branches with
burlap or a mesh tarp to protect it from the drying
effects of the wind. Try to drive slowly to
It's easy to hurt your back when moving a heavy tree.
Avoid the use of make-shift planks for ramps than can
slip out. The weight of a heavy root ball can crush a
person, causing very serious injuries!
Branches often poke you, so protect your eyes.
Pinning nails are
used by nurserymen to hold burlap on the root ball
-- the points are extremely sharp and will snag you
if you aren't careful.
Pinning nails for securing burlap have
very sharp points
Placing a tree
in the landscape
Tree placement should take into consideration a tree's growing
requirements, maximum size, easements, right-of-ways, and
Right-of-ways may extend 15 feet or more into
your lawn area from the street. Consider that
someday sidewalks might be
added to that area.
Laws may allow neighbors to trim off branches
reaching over their property line. Check your local laws
and ordinances, and even if you are allowed to trim off
a neighbor's tree branches, try to discuss the issue
with them first in order to maintain a good neighborly
If you plant a tree over a utility line that may need to
be dug up later, it could mean the tree will have to be
How is drainage? Most plants don't like soggy soil.
Use trees to block ugly views, but don't block
the desirable views.
Deciduous trees only screen during the growing season,
while evergreens will provide screening all year.
If you plant deciduous trees on the south or west side
of your house, it will help cool your house in summer
while allowing winter sunlight through to warm your
Hedges of trees will act as windbreaks against cold
winter northwesterly winds.
Buried utility lines, wires and underground
hazards? Check before you dig. Call "One Call" - a
free service for marking underground utilities - and do
it a couple weeks ahead to allow time for the various
utilities to mark the area. Landscape
lighting, lamp post wires and electric dog fence wires are
often shallow and very easy to damage, but you'll have to locate
these on your own.
Some of the research on tree planting suggests using methods
you might not imagine. Did you know it is better to backfill
your planting hole with the native soil, instead of bringing
in topsoil? Research has indicated that tree roots will
establish better if the soil they are growing into is the
same. In some cases however, you are forced to dispose of
heavy clay or rocks and use better soil for your backfill.
Having good drainage is probably the most important factor
of all --- tree roots need to breathe and won't tolerate
soggy soil conditions that can suffocate roots. Some species
of trees will tolerate wet conditions better than others.
Don't excavate any deeper than the root ball.
B&B trees need a solid footing to sit on. Loose soil
under the ball will allow soil to settle later, causing the
tree to become tilted as it sinks.
Planting holes should be twice as wide as the root ball if
planting in poorly drained heavy clay, excavate a
narrow ditch out of the lowest hole edge. Fill
that ditch with loose soil that will allow water drainage. If
the surrounding ground isn't sloped,
plant the tree with the root ball elevated one-third of
its height above the existing soil, and slope-up the
around the elevated root ball.
backfill and transplanted tree pruning
As mentioned above, recent university research overturned some old
concepts about transplanting trees. Two of the most notable
concepts deal with pruning and soil backfill:
University research indicates that trees will establish
better if planting holes are backfilled with the native soil. Improving
the backfill (using peat moss, topsoil,
etc) may cause roots to stay in the
planting hole, due to differences in the types of soil.
Early recommendations called for thinning a tree after
transplanting to compensate for the loss of roots during
transplanting. More recent studies indicate you should
only remove crossing branches or damaged limbs. That
being said, many nurserymen
still believe in thinning a newly transplanted tree to
balance the 'root to shoot' ratio.
for tree staking: Trees over 6-feet tall
should be staked for the first growing season. In
windy situations you may need to stake
shorter trees as well, with the principle being that
a tree ends up straight once it roots into the ground. Recommendations
also call for staking a tree so it can move
slightly, the theory being it will develop
a stronger root system with some movement in the wind.
Protect the tree bark from wires and ties with short
sections of old garden hose, which work well.
uses 3 short stakes spaced evenly around the
tree with wires running up to the first heavy branches
Bark on a young tree
should be protected with
tree wrap, or a plastic spiral
wrap, during its first year of growth. Place these wraps
around the trunk of the tree, between the
first set of branches and the ground.
! ! ! VERY IMPORTANT
! ! !
Don't choke your new tree! When placing any sort of bindings around a tree trunk, it's
very important to check them from time to time to ensure they aren't
choking the tree trunk as its trunk diameter expands!
seen many cases where these wires, plastic ropes, and
synthetic wraps have caused the death of a tree. These
situations most often occur in
commercial landscapes where no one is paying any attention to
tree maintenance after the initial planting work.
by step instructions (and photos) for planting a tree
Saving money on trees
the best time to transplant trees?