You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

How to plant a tree correctly

According to an old Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Friday is Arbor Day, so why not celebrate and plant a tree in your landscape or in your community?

Be sure to plant trees correctly so they live a long time. One of the biggest challenges that I see today in terms of proper planting has to do with planting depth.

The hole should be only as deep as the root ball and twice the width. Tree roots grow within the top 12-15 inches of soil and grow much further than the width of the tree canopy.

The root flare should be planted at or just slightly above ground level. The root flare is the area at the base of the trunk where the roots begin to flare out, away from the trunk. It’s the transition zone from trunk to roots.

The root flare should not be below ground, so find the root flare first and dig the hole according to this depth. The deeper the tree is planted, the less oxygen for healthy root growth.

We have learned over time that when the root flare is below ground, the tree has a tendency to develop secondary roots in order to try to survive. These secondary roots have a tendency to grow around the trunk and can eventually girdle (strangle) the trunk of the tree.

We also see secondary root development occur when too much mulch is applied around the base of the tree. Those of us in Extension call this “volcano mulching” because it looks like a volcano around the base of a tree.

Mulch should be no deeper than 4 inches and spread around the base of the tree but not up against the trunk.

Getting back to proper planting, there is a lot of discussion about to remove or not remove the burlap and wire basket (if there is a basket).

Years ago we used to leave the burlap and wire baskets on the root ball in order to maintain the integrity of the root ball. You don’t want it to break apart.

However, we found that synthetic burlap was not breaking down and the wire baskets were not rusting and both were causing some problems with root girdling in some cases.

The current recommendation is to keep the burlap and wire basket on the root ball until you get the tree placed properly in the hole.

Then, cut the burlap and any twine off of the top of the root ball, down to at least 12-15 inches. Cut the wire basket (bolt cutters work best) down past the first couple rows of wire, again, below the potential root zone.

After planting, water and take care of the tree in order to get it established.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

Coupon deals of week
Coupon deals of week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. Blink RevitaLens This week at Rite-Aid, Blink RevitaLens, is one sale for $7.99. Use the $3 off one Blink RevitaLens coupon found in most of today’s SmartSource inserts. When you check out, you will also get 200 PlentiPoints, which is equivalent to $2 good...
In search of an indestructible dog toy
In search of an indestructible dog toy

If my family was ever in an accident and the “Jaws of Life” were required, we’re all set. Teddy, our sweet, tummy-rub-loving Lab could handle the job. His jaws seem to be made of steel. RELATED » Teddy finds his voice The pooch can shred most toys in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t matter if the toy is soft and squishy...
This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive
This ‘Hunger Games’ exhibit is SO worth the drive

If you were looking for an excuse for a mini-getaway that’s less than 3 hours away, your moment has come. “Hunger Games: The Exhibition” is on display now at The Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky through September 10, 2017. Louisville is about 2.5 hours from Dayton’s center, so it can easily be a day or weekend...
Plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day
Plant a tree in honor of Arbor Day

Given that yesterday was Arbor Day, why not plant a tree this weekend? Garden centers are stock-full of great selections for your landscape and have lots of people on hand to help you pick out the perfect tree. If you decide to plant a tree, make sure you plant it properly for longevity. One of the biggest mistakes that I see is that people plant trees...
Humane society, Dayton firefighters rescue cat stuck in pipe
Humane society, Dayton firefighters rescue cat stuck in pipe

It took hours and special equipment for rescuers to free a cat today with its head stuck in a pipe embedded in a cement block in Dayton. The Humane Society of Greater Dayton responded to a report the cat had been stuck for hours. When they arrived, the cat had worn down its nails clenching at the ground trying to escape. The pipe was too thick to easily...
More Stories