Top Tips for Planting Trees

Ilona Erwin

Why People Plant Trees

Reasons to plant trees are sometimes the same used to procrastinate tree planting. It all boils down to time and expense.
If you are looking for a way to improve the value of your property, and making the yard a place for the family to enjoy, put off the procrastinating and decide to plant a tree this fall.

  • Trees take a relatively long time to grow to maturity
  • They can be expensive, taking a larger share of the landscaping budget
  • They benefit from being put in the right way, and may suffer when poorly planted
  • More planning is required with positioning and choosing species.

Seven Good Tips For Tree Planting

To help you make the best choices, and plow through any reasons you have put off putting in trees, these tree planting tips should be a good guide.

1 Fall is an ideal time to plant with a few notable exceptions. Magnolias may require springtime planting to get well rooted, but most other trees grow roots just as well during fall. Use the good weather of autumn and the more relaxed garden schedule to add arboreal beauty to your landscape.

2 Because they take longer to grow than other types of planting, landscape with your deciduous and evergreen choices, first. It will also be less disruptive to shrubs and perennials if the trees are already in place.

3 Choose the right species/variety for your soil and climate. Hardiness is the foremost item of information to check. It is very disappointing to lose a valuable tree to a cyclical cold snap. Soil drainage, wind conditions, soil pH, etc. all impact the health and longevity of the tree.

Much of this information is necessary to know for most garden decisions, with County Extension offices or local Master gardening groups freely providing guidance and educational material. Besides reference books, most trees offered for sale have tags with all the pertinent facts about hardiness.

4 Prepare the site well with a hole of sufficient size for good root growth. Transplant solutions are often valuable. Lightly mulching a newly planted tree, properly, is beneficial.

5 Smaller size plants are often better for longtime results. For many reasons, planting a “whip” is better than placing a more mature sized specimen. The early years that the whip takes hold may not look promising, but after a number of years it often has caught up and provides a better, healthier tree. It is certainly more economical.

6 Placement is another important consideration. This site believes in the idea that you as homeowner can design your own landscape, but if you feel better with professional oversight or hiring a landscape company to do the job, by all means go that route. Many garden centers and nurseries have knowledgeable help. some nurseries even provide free plans and advice.

Choose trees that will give shade where wanted, are free from unwanted fruit or seed balls near walkways and driveways. Consider whether root systems or weak branches could be damaging to the home.

7 Perhaps this tip should have been listed first, since it is so important. Pay particular attention to height and spread of the mature growth. When near a house, power lines, paths, and buildings, the mature dimensions make the difference between a valuable addition or a worry.

A  Few Rules of Thumb in Choosing a Tree

Ilona's green thumb tips

Ilona’s green thumb tips

  • Fast growing trees often have weaker wood and branching
  • Different species have differing rates of growth in early or middle maturity.
  • Taking off one-third top growth of newly planted trees helps get the roots established.


Find the Instructions and Information for Growing a Tree

Wondering where to position your trees for best effect? Planning is the first step to take, although many of us make a spontaneous spur of the moment purchase. This has us scrambling with questions of where best to plant it.

Primary Tree Planting Tip

Make a landscape plan. I can’t repeat this enough! If you feel inadequate to the task, that’s okay; many plant stores and nurseries offer landscaping advice for free. Many garden books come with example plans, too.

A landscape plan will help to:

  • Choose trees for your climate and home property conditions.
  • Place the plantings with consideration of height and width at maturity.
  • Guide placement with consideration of overhead lines, driveway consideration, and maintenance tasks.

Avoid mistakes by making a general plan first; this helps immeasurably when taking advantage of  bargains selecting trees you know are wanted. This is the best way to prevent a hodge-podge look in the yard, and making best use of the landscaping budget.
Positioning Trees in Your Garden

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.