4 Steps to Tree Planting Success

Tree Planting Success

The best shot a tree has at long term survival starts with proper and careful planting.

The best shot a tree has at long term survival starts with proper and careful planting.

The best shot a tree has at long term survival must start with proper and careful planting. Now that spring is showing up and the green is popping out all over Sioux Falls, its time to get started on any trees you intend to plant. Here are 4 important and valuable steps to consider and follow when planting a tree this spring (or whenever really).


Pick the RIGHT tree for the Location.

It’s tough to do sometimes, but you can’t just go buy any old tree from a store and expect it’s going to thrive, let alone last a few years (even if you care for it the right way), if its not suited to your area or soil conditions. The key to getting trees to thrive in your landscape is to pick the species of trees that will go with YOUR soil conditions, landscape topography, and local weather. After you have narrowed those down, then you can pick out the features that fit your wants and expectations. Anything short of that, and your wasting your money, time, and the time that could have been used to be growing a tree that will last. The following is what you need to consider when picking what tree to plant:

  • Soil test – find out what you have.
  • Ask an expert – your local nursery or garden center can help you choose whats best for the area based on your soil test.
  • Mature Tree size – remember little trees grow to be big trees!
  • Special needs for your site or expectations of what you want to get out of the tree. You want big shade or small and pretty?


BUY a High Quality Tree!

“Pay peanuts and you get monkeys.” Thats what grandpa always said and it certainly holds true for plant material (especially trees). The places that sell dead trees (i.e. lumber) and/or diapers are not the places to buy a tree. Go to the professionals and spend the few extra dollars in getting a high quality plant. There is usually a guarantee on the trees there (unlike the previously mentioned) and if you really want it done right, hire them to plant the tree for you. Its is really the best value of your money.


Dig a hole to be PROUD of!

This is not the time to get lazy. You did your homework and invested the valuable money on an excellent tree. But the best, long term success of that tree thriving and outlasting your grandchildren is directly related to how well you dig the planting hole. Consider these key tips in digging a tree planting hole:

  • Wide and shallow – Do not dig too deep. The top of the root ball should be right at, or slightly higher, than the turf.
  • 2-3 wider than the root ball – The more soil you disturb in making the hole wider, the better the tree can establish. It doesn’t need to be as deep as the center either. Even just a few inches (4-6″) is often enough.
  • No added Stuff – Do not add replacement soil or compost back into the hole after or when planting. This could seriously affect drainage and kill the tree.
  • NO Fertilizers either – Fertilizers at plating time can stress the tree and cause long term problems (especially in the spring).


Give the ROOTS room without competition.

Having an area of mulch (like the picture above) greatly increases the chances of tree establishment and health. The root system of a tree under 2-4 inches of mulch can be 5 times greater than that under turf. That area also will keep the lawn mowers and weed whips away from the trunk. The number one cause of tree damage in urban areas is from lawn mowers and weed whips.


Follow these 4 steps to having a great tree for years to come when you plant a tree this spring. Need help with deciding what to plant or where? For the Sioux Falls area of South Dakota, call us for a consultation. 605.759.6020

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