Arboriculture Division – Seedling Planting & Care

Tree Seedling Planting and Care Tips

Graphic illustration of a seedling in a bucket for step 1, and a shovel on the ground for step 2

    • Unpack your trees, remove all packing materials, carefully untangle the roots and soak the roots in water 3 to 6 hours. DO NOT allow the roots to dry out.
    • Dig a hole, wider than seems necessary, so the roots can grow outward without crowding. Remove any grass within a 3-foot circular area. To aid root growth, turn soil in an area up to 3 feet in diameter.

Graphic illustration of a seedling being placed in a hole, roots down

    • Plant the tree at the same depth it stood in the nursery, with plenty of room for the roots. Partially fill the hole, firming the soil around the lower roots. Do not add soil amendments such as peat or bark. Do not use fertilizer, potting soil, or chemicals on your new trees.

Graphic illustration of seedling planted in ground and watering, step 4 and 5

  • Shovel in the remaining soil. It should be firmly but not tightly packed. Construct a water-holding basin around the tree. Give the tree plenty of water. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch two inches deep in a 3-foot diameter area around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.
  • The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.
Last Updated: December 4, 2023