LANSING, Mich. — Climate plays a deciding role when determining the appropriate planting time for a new tree. Newly planted trees do best when exposed to moderate temperatures and rainfall and they need time to root and acclimatize before the onset of intense heat and dryness of mid-summer or the freezing temperatures of winter. Spring and early fall are generally the best tree planting seasons.
Appropriate soil temperature
Since warm soil promotes stronger and faster root growth, you should plant a tree when the soil temperature is over 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dig the right size hole
A newly planted tree will do better in a shallow yet wide hole because new roots will grow horizontally from the sides of its root ball. If the hole is expansive enough, the tree will have plenty of room to stretch out its roots, encouraging it to grow at a quicker pace.
Make sure the root ball is level with the soil
Once the tree is removed from its container and placed in a freshly-dug hole, lay a spade or shovel across the top of the hole. This will help determine if the top of the root ball is level with the soil line. If the root ball is buried too deep or not deep enough, its roots will fail to establish, causing the tree to die within a month of planting.
Backfill and hand pack the soil
After you backfill the hole with existing soil, lightly handpack the soil around the tree. This will settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Refreain from tamping the soil with your feet as this could cause the tree to slowly sink in the soil and damage the root ball.
Retain moisture with mulch
Cover the planting hole with a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch to prevent the tree’s roots from drying out. Make sure the mulch doesn’t touch the tree’s trunk. Due to its high level of moisture, mulch can cause a young tree to weaken and decay when in close proximity.
Water your tree daily
Since trees should be watered slowly and deeply, you should water the tree for 20-30 minutes with a soaker hose by encircling the tree to saturate the soil. Consider using root feeder to create deeper root development.