Gardening: The Right Way to Plant a Tree

Cary, NC – It’s official: tree and shrub planting season has begun in the North Carolina Piedmont. Here’s a video we produced a couple of years ago that will show you how to do it right.

The Right Way to Plant a Tree

In this video, Keith Ramsey of Garden Supply Co here in Cary demonstrates the right way to plant in tree in about two minutes flat. The same process will work equally well for shrubs.

  1. Start by selecting a healthy plant – Look for a straight trunk, good shape and proportions and no disease or damage.
  2. Dig a Hole 2X the Root Ball – You can’t plant a $5 tree in a $2 hole – dig it big! This gives the new tree room to grow and good drainage.
  3. Add Soil Amendments – Keith added a bag of Black Cow, a mixture of composite and cow manure. He also added a handful of Triple Phosphate, a nutrient that helps the roots grow.
  4. Open Up the Root Ball – Often, trees and shrubs will have a hard, dense mass of roots growing around the outside of the root ball. If that’s the case, Keith demonstrates how to open up the root ball with a pair of garden clippers.
  5. Level the Root Ball – Place the tree in the hole and make sure it lines up with the earth around it. Add dirt or remove some until the tree is at the right height.  Remember: too high and the root ball will dry out. Too low, the root ball will drown.
  6. Backfill – If you haven’t done so already, chop up the dirt you excavated from the hole and mix it around with the Black Cow. Shovel it back into the hole to fill up evenly around the tree.
  7. Make a Drip Line – This is a handy tip. Keith made a small ridge about two feet away from the  truck so water would drip off the leaves toward the root ball.
  8. Water It In – Finally, water in your newly planted tree.

Video: Planting a Tree

You can also see this video on YouTube.


Story and photo by Hal Goodtree. The Gardening Column on CaryCitizen is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.