Five tree-mendous tips for successfully planting trees


Planting a tree sounds so simple — dig a hole, place root ball inside said hole, cover with dirt. Voila — tree planted.

However, understanding stem girdling roots, root flares and staking could make the difference between a lovely tree or it being kaput by next spring.

A little knowledge goes a long way.

“Customers who don't plant their trees properly end up disappointed when their tree doesn't flourish or it dies prematurely,”  said Jarrod McKee, owner of Aspen Nursery in Post Falls. “It takes a little extra work, but the results are well worth the effort.”

Here are McKee's tree planting tips.

Step 1 Placement

People plant trees for shade. However, McKee notes people don't think about the fact that the sun changes position throughout the season and to choose your location carefully, trees should not be moved after planting. Pick a place that will deliver the maximum shade you desire.

Step 2 Digging

Always call 811 before you dig. Utility companies will come out to your property and mark where water lines, gas lines and internet lines are located.  Once that's done, dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball.

“You don't want a swimming pool-affect where the root ball is buried underground,” said McKee. “The tree will never grow that way. The hole you need isn't that deep.”

Step 3 Find the root flare

Find the top of the root by locating the base of the trunk called the crown.  Follow the crown down until you expose the top of the first main root called the root flare.  The city of Coeur d'Alene has a great example here along with some help tips.

 “These stem roots will actually strangle your tree in a process called girdling,” said McKee. “They circle the base of the tree just below the ground and choke off the flow of water and nutrients. So you want to gently remove these roots without damaging the tree or the root flare. The root flare is bigger and more substantial looking.”

Step 4 Planting the tree

Place the root ball in the tree and take a step back to ensure the tree is facing the right direction.  Fill the hole half full with soil and fertilizer, water heavily —  allowing for settlement, then straighten the tree and fill the rest of the way. Finally, saturate the area with water.

 “Your tree is going to need water to thrive,” he said. “Many times people don't give it enough water.”

Step 5 Staking

Young trees need a little boost when they're young. Using a string and a stake will help the tree reach its potential. Tie the string to the tree and place the stake near the base of the tree.

“Staking will help protect trees from blowing over in a wind storm,” said McKee. “North Idaho winters can be rough on young trees. There are no guarantees, but staking will give your tree a chance to survive.”

For more information, call (208) 667-7511 or visit

 --Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content



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