Landscaping Tip: Want to Plant a Tree?

Properly planted trees are a great investment in your landscape.

Spring is an ideal time to plant trees in Indianapolis, but how do you plant a tree properly?

Before you start digging, consider your landscape and the mature size of the tree. All too often trees are planted in spaces they will outgrow in a few years. Trees also need well drained soil with plenty of sunlight.

Once the proper site is selected, call 811 before you dig to have your utility lines marked. This is a free service offered in Indiana. And it’s the law. Damage to utility lines can result in serious injury and costly repairs for a homeowner.

Once the utilities are marked (within 48 hours of your call), it’s time to dig in. The tree hole should be twice as wide as the root ball or container, but the depth of the hole is crucial. The root flare (transition area from trunk to roots) needs to be 1” to 2” higher than existing soil grade.

When placing tree in the hole, take extra care not to drop it. This could cause the root ball to crack, leading to root breakage, eventually killing the tree. It is also important to ensure the tree is plumb. This can be achieved by simply stepping back to view tree from several different angles.

After you’re satisfied with how tree is positioned, begin backfilling the hole. Compress the soil with your foot after every few shovels of dirt to remove air pockets to reduce settling.

Water in your newly planted tree with roughly 1 gallon of water plus an additional gallon per each caliper (diameter of trunk) inch of the tree when planted. Add mulch around your new tree but keep it away from trunk. The mulch will help maintain soil moisture and regulate the soil temperature.

If you would like additional information or have additional questions, please contact me.

Brian Jones is the President of Scenic Green, Inc., an Indianapolis based landscaping firm. He’s a certified horticulturist and a former 7th grade social studies teacher.


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