How to Plant Trees and Shrubs

Plant your tree/shrub using a mixture of native soil, compost, and expanded shale. Then, water with a root stimulator.

Set the tree in a hole with the root collar (area just above the roots) flush or slightly above natural grade. Planting too deeply is the leading cause of unsuccessful new tree plantings. Always handle the tree by the root ball instead of the tree trunk.

Your tree/shrub should be planted a little higher than the natural grade to allow for settling. Check the root ball of your tree to make sure the root flare is exposed and at the proper planting height.


Root Stimulator

Mix and apply root stimulator according to the manufacturer’s directions. Apply to the root ball of the tree/shrub at the time of planting and again two to three weeks later.


Mulch helps keep the root ball warm during the winter and cool during the summer. It also helps retain moisture and reduces weeds. You should maintain a 2-inch layer of mulch over the root zone, but not in direct contact with the trunk.

How to Water Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

Deep water newly planted trees/shrubs every day for the first two days after planting. This settles the soil and removes large pockets around the tree’s roots. Then, you can resume your normal watering schedule. Supplemental watering is very important during your tree’s first two years, especially during periods of drying winds, high temperatures, and periods of low rainfall. A newly planted tree requires six to eight gallons of water per week for every diameter inch of trunk. A thorough soaking is much better than light, frequent watering.

Symptoms of Underwatering

Leaves are dry and crumble, brown or light green in color, and fall easily off the tree.

Symptoms of Overwatering

Leaves discolor, but do not come off easily or crumble in your hand.

When does a tree need water?

Feel the soil around the root ball to the depth of approximately three inches. If it’s dry, thoroughly soak the entire root ball. In May and June, you should pay special attention to the soil moisture as your tree will begin to need more water with rising temperatures.

How should I water a tree? If I use sprinklers, how long should they be set?

Trees and shrubs prefer to be watered deeply. Use a handheld water hose and water directly over the root ball. Unless your sprinkler system has custom-set bubblers to water each tree, it’s better to soak your trees at least once a week – particularly during hot weather. Sprinklers are better than no watering though, just don’t rely too heavily on them to take care of the job.