ArborViews Australia - Consulting Arborists

How to Plant a Tree

Planting a tree well means it will be there for everyone to enjoy well into the future. You can expect a well-planted tree – the right species in the right location – to keep on giving benefits to the planet and those living on it for many lifetimes to come. What a great gift to give future generations.

1. Trees can be planted any time of the year but the best months to plant trees are during autumn and spring.

2. Where possible, purchase trees that conform to AS-2303 Tree Stock for Landscape Use (1). These trees are structurally sound which will give them more chance of surviving the harsh urban environments.

3. Water the tree in its container to field capacity.

4. If direction is marked on the container, i.e. north, note the same on the tree. Do not damage the bark or cambium (growth tissue under the bark) in doing so.

5. Water planting site to field capacity 24 hours prior to planting.

6. Remove turf and weeds from around the planting site for a radius equal to the height of the tree to be planted.

7. Check the pH (acidity) of the soil prior to planting. If necessary, treat the soil to achieve a pH between 6 and 7.

Figure 1 - planting a tree

8. Dig a hole in the centre of the cleared area only to the depth of the root ball of the tree to be planted. Do not dig deeper and backfill or add gravel. The width of the hole should be at least three times the diameter of the root ball and should slope towards the centre of the hole.

Figure 2 - planting a tree

Retain the backfill to one side, ensuring large peds (lumps of soil) are broken up and no peds greater than 25mm in diameter remain.

9. Fill the hole with water and ensure that it drains within a reasonable time thus indicating adequate drainage. If the hole does not drain, do not plant the tree as it may not survive.

10. No additional organic matter should be placed in the hole.

11. Remove the rootball from its container and assess the roots that can be seen to ensure no root girdling. Tease the roots around the surface of the rootball without disturbing the structure of the rootball.

12. If the direction was noted, orient the tree accordingly and place in the hole, ensuring the top of the rootball is level with, or slightly higher than natural ground level.

13. Backfill the hole, ensuring the soil properly settles. If necessary, slope the soil slightly from the top of the rootball to natural ground level.

14. Water until the soil in the hole and rootball is saturated to ensure no air pockets remain.

15. Mulch cleared area to a depth of between 50 mm and 100 mm with organic mulch. Keep mulch 50 mm clear from the base of the trunk.

Figure 3 - planting a tree

16. Water again immediately to saturate mulch, and then every day for four weeks. Maintain watering at least twice a week after that unless it rains.


(1) Australian Standards Committee EV-018, Arboriculture (April 2015) AS2303:2015 Tree Stock for Landscape Use,  Standards Australia, Sydney.

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