Plant a Tree

Planting a tree is an investment toward the future.

When we plant a tree, we look to the future and trust that in years to come it will be enjoyed for its shade, lush foliage and how it shapes the landscape. A lone tree can become a familiar presence that creates shared stories among families, communities and wildlife. 

By providing shelter and habitat for animals, a tree can improve human-wildlife interactions in a yard, city or forest. When you plant a tree, it has the potential to live for hundreds of years, and it will create habitat and food sources at every stage of its life. Birds will use it for nesting, and when it dies, it will become a place for salamanders and insects to live. As it decomposes, its nutrients will feed the soil. Someday it may become a legacy tree in a forest, pushing the canopy higher and adding to the ecological value in a stand

Whether you want to plant a tree in your yard, meadow or woodlot, this information will quide you to make the right decisions.



What to Consider

Before planting a tree take some time to consider how you can create the conditions for a successful planting. What you’re planting has the potential to live for hundreds of years. Consider the size of the tree when choosing a location to ensure it has enough space to grow. Think about the required growing conditions. Does it require full sun, or partial shade? Is it a sheltered area, or will it be faced with a lot of wind?  

It’s best to plant a tree in spring while it's still dormant or before any significant growth has taken place. Fall is also preferred as the temperature is cooler and seasonal growth has tapered off.

See a list of preferred conditions for native trees HERE.

How to Plant a Tree

Begin by digging a hole that is two times the size of the plant’s root ball. You want the roots to have room to grow underground, just as the branches will need space to grow above.The sides of hole should be straight down, not curved like a cone. This will ensure healthy root growth. To see if the hole is the right depth and width, place the plant inside. If the hole is too deep, add more soil. If it is too shallow, take some soil away. If the plant is buried too deep, the stem will begin to rot. If buried too high, the roots will be exposed to air and die.  

The place where the stem meets the root ball should be at the same depth as the edge of the hole. Adjust the root ball to ensure the stem is straight. Make sure to add compost, as it will add important nutrients to the soil and make the plant healthier. Fill in the hole and then gently tug the tree up and down. This helps settle the soil and ensures there are no air pockets around the root ball. You can pack the soil around the tree to help stabilize it. If the packing causes the soil to be unlevel, you may need to add more at this point.

Finalize the process with your hands, by ensuring the soil is level and the tree is still straight. Mulch around the tree to protect the bare soil, trap moisture and improve the look of the planting. For this you can use woodchips, or whatever you can find in the forest (leaves, twigs, moss, etc.). But make sure the mulch does not sit directly against the stalk of the plant, as it can cause rot. 


After Care

It’s best practice to thoroughly water a tree after planting it. Watering amount depends on the tree’s size, soil conditions of the site and the amount of rainfall in the area. Give the tree a deep drink and keep the soil moist, but take care not to over water it. If this is not possible due to time or location, rely on rainfall and keep an eye on what you have planted. Revisit the site to ensure your tree is growing and healthy. 

Another important aspect of after care is pruningespecially if the tree develops two or more leaders. Look at our ‘How to Prune’ section for more in-depth information about this.


Planting Resources



Contact Us