Proper Tree Planting

Proper Tree PlantingPlanting trees at improper soil depths can have numerous, long-term side effects that are challenging to correct. Prevent them by understanding how tree roots function and planting at the proper depth.

Watch how to plant your new trees at the proper depth.

The Root of the Problem

For tree roots to grow vigorously, they require water, oxygen and warmth. As a result, tree roots naturally grow quite shallowly in the soil. When root systems are buried too deeply, less oxygen is available. These trees typically will not thrive and may slowly decline, making them susceptible to possible failure during stressful times, such as drought or storms, or even premature death. In fact, 80 percent of all tree problems can be attributed to their soil environment.

Deeper Investigation

Ideally, plant trees so their root flare (where the trunk starts to bulge out at the bottom) is level with or slightly above the soil surface. To spot a poorly planted tree, look for a trunk that grows straight from the ground like a pole. Signs of trees suffering as a result of deep planting include girdling or fewer roots; yellowing, undersized or fewer leaves; and stunted height.

excavating the root collar with an air spade

A Little Air, Please

Oxygen is necessary for the survival of tree roots. Remedy this by replanting the tree at the proper height or removing excess soil from the tree’s root flare. Replanting is more successful on trees planted in the past two to three months. However, removal of excess soil via root crown excavation, a process that uses compressed air to prevent injury, is better for established plants.

If you are concerned your trees have not been planted properly, find your local certified arborist to request a consultation. 

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