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How to plant a tree

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Planting your trees might seem daunting at first but you'll soon realize it's quite easy and even enjoyable. The first thing to do is follow the How should I care for my trees before I plant them? instructions.

We encourage you to follow these simple steps when you're ready to plant your trees:

  1. Select your site:
    • Try not to plant into pots. Transplanting growing trees is very stressful on them.
    • Ensure your site's climate zone is appropriate for your trees.
    • Never plant into frozen ground.
    • Make sure that your tree or shrub will have adequate room to grow. Buried services, powerlines, other trees, and other nearby objects may limit where you can plant your trees.
    • Ensure that the soil isn't too wet or too dry for your trees.
    • Be sure that your site receives sufficient sunshine.
  2. Prepare the area - remove any grass or weeds within at least a 30cm (12 inch) radius of where you'll be planting your tree. If the soil is compacted, consider loosening it up by rototilling, cultivating, discing, or digging with hand tools. If you are planting a large number of trees, you may want to prepare your site a few days before you receive them.
  3. Dig your hole:
    • For peat plugs, you need a hole big enough to accommodate the plug at a minimum. But it's much better if you loosen and mix the soil at least several inches in all directions and eliminate competition near your tree.
    • For bareroot stock, you'll need a hole big enough to ensure you can arrange the roots naturally in the hole (not curled around the bottom or pointing back at the surface).
  4. Amend your soil [optional] - you may add bonemeal at the bottom of the hole to enhance growth. Just add the amount prescribed on the package and mix it thoroughly with the soil at the bottom of your hole. You can also help your tree grow faster by mixing potting soil into your hole if the ground is particularly tough. If the soil is particularly dry, you can water the hole now.
  5. Plant your tree - ensure the risk of major frosts is in the past (tip: do not plant your trees until people in your community are planting their gardens). Likewise, do not attempt to plant a frozen seedling. Place the seedling in the hole with the stem standing straight up and with the root collar at ground level.
    • For a container seedling, ensure that the plug is not bent or curved and that there is no space between the bottom of the plug and the earth below.
    • For a bareroot seedling, ensure that the roots spread out and are arranged in a natural downward orientation.
  6. Water and fill the hole - moisten the soil and fill your hole back in around the roots. Press firmly on the soil around the stem. The roots should be completely covered. Be sure that the first branches of the seedling are not covered.
  7. Water the area - water thoroughly after planting but do not drown your tree if the soil is poorly-drained.
  8. Protect your trees from pests - you may need to take special precautions to keep deer, rabbits, mice, and other pests away from your trees.

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