Planting an urban tree

When you have chosen the type of urban tree you want to grow, it is important to understand how to properly plant an urban tree.

Urban trees that have been brought from retail nurseries, wholesale or from garden supply stores tend to come in one of three options

Burlapped tree

Balled & Burlapped

The soil and roots of the tree have been bound in burlap

Container Grown Tree


The tree is sold from the container that it has grown in

Bare Rooted tree


Lease common with trees when the roots are exposed


When to plant an urban tree

Before considering how you are going to plant your urban tree you must consider the climatic impact at the time of planting. Typically newly planted urban trees will operate best when exposed to moderate rainfall and temperature, requiring time to acclimatise and root before the cold temperatures of winter or heat and dryness of summer.

Typically, spring and early autumn are the best seasons to plant within, dependent upon weather patterns at your location.


How to plant an urban tree

Planting an urban tree is very simple but requires consideration so as not to make the common mistake of digging a hole that is both too narrow and too deep. When a hole is too narrow then the roots can’t expand properly to extract required nourishment or sufficiently anchor the urban tree, while if the hole is too deep then the roots will not have access to oxygen that aids proper growth.

To make planting simple, the hole shouldn’t be any deeper than the soil in which the urban tree was initially grown. Whether planting a balled, container-grown or bare rooted  urban tree, the diameter should be at least 3 times the diameter of the balled, contained or spread of the bare roots soil.

To dig the hole for the urban tree to be planted, be mindful of poorly drained clay where ‘glazing’ can occur as the bottom and sides of the hole smooth over making it hard for water to pass through smoothly. If glazing does occur, then use a fork to drag along the edges and then raise the centre of the hole with soil for added drainage, lowering the chance of water pooling in the hole.


Planting Balled and Burlapped urban trees

It is best to plant Balled and Burlapped urban trees as quickly as possible, but they can be stored under shade for a while so long as the ball is kept moist. When lifting the urban tree, always lift from the ball and not the trunk so as not to damage the roots. Dependent on the material used to burlap the roots and soil, before planting you need to cut away the top third of the burlap if it is natural, or remove it entirely if it is synthetic.

At this point you will want to use our urban tree soil/ Amsterdam tree soil to fill the remaining areas around the tree in the hole, up to the height of the ball only. Do not compress the soil so as not to cause problems for water reaching the roots.


Planting Container-Grown urban trees

In the same manner as Balled and Burlapped urban trees, container-grown trees should be planted promptly but can be kept for a short period under shade, so long as the roots are kept moist. To plant the urban tree, you must first remove the container or tear the sides away if fibres bind the sides of the roots. When removed from the container, the roots should be checked and if found ‘pot-bound’ through tight compression, the roots should be gently teased and spread finely before planting.

If the root system is extremely compacted with woody roots, it may be necessary to open up the bottom half of the roots with a spade. Before planting once again tease the roots to spread them out or risk the roots ‘girdling’ and destroying the urban tree or at the very least provide difficulties for the urban tree to expand its roots further and grow properly.

Now you will need to plant the urban tree in the hole and fill the sides with our urban tree soil/ Amsterdam tree soil, being careful not to compact the soil by using your hands to compress rather than your feet.


Planting Bare-Rooted urban trees

As there is no soil surrounding the roots the urban tree will need to be planted promptly from purchase, but in all cases the roots should be kept moist in the period between purchasing and planting. Before planting any broken or damaged roots will need to be pruned without damaging the root structure.

With a hole dug to the specification mentioned earlier, a cone of earth needs to be added to the centre to splay the roots over. When sitting on top of the cone, the trunk flair needs to be clearly visible with crown roughly 2 inches above the soil level.

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