Tree Planting 101

A quick and dirty guide to planting trees.


Planting a tree may seem simple, but there are several aspects that often go over-looked. This guide will take you through a few steps that make tree planting easy and enjoyable.


Both conifer trees and deciduous trees have different ideal planting times, but as a rule of thumb planting trees a few weeks before Spring and in Autumn is widely accepted as the best times. Avoid planting in both Summer and Winter as the seasonal conditions can be hard on new plantings.


Where to plant and what tree species to plant may be the most difficult questions for a home owner. To avoid conflict in the future you need to ask yourself: How big does the tree get? Will it fit where I plant it? Is it messy? Does it drop leaves? There is a lot to know!

There are three good ways to find this information:

  1. Talk to an industry professional (Arborist or Nursery Sales Person).
  2. Look at other trees in your neighbourhood that you admire and ask about them.
  3. Review Metro Vancouver’s Urban Forest Climate Adaptation Initiative planting guidelines website link.


Tree roots do not damage foundations unless the foundation is already cracked or has leaking pipes. Trees roots almost always follow moisture and oxygen which are the two things that are not associated with concrete foundations but may be in a foundational crack. A general rule: don’t plant a tree within 3 meters to avoid any conflict.

Once a tree root has grown under a driveway there is little that can be done. To prevent this from happening a Root Barrier can be installed. Root barriers cause tree roots to change their growing direction downward.


If only if it were as simple as digging a hole – wait, it is! Follow these easy tips to install your tree:


  • Dig the hole as deep as the root ball
  • Make the hole roughly twice as wide as the root ball


  • If the tree is in a container, removal the container. Check that roots are not wrapped around the root ball
  • If the tree is in burlap and a wire basket, once the tree is in the hole, cut the wire basket and any twine so you can pull the burlap back exposing soil. The burlap can be buried down beside the root ball or removed. Make sure to remove the twine as it can choke the tree trunk.
  • Once the root ball is exposed, firmly “massage” the root ball to loosen up the soil. This is a good time to check for girdling roots – those roots wrapping themselves around the root ball – if found, cut them off.
  • Back fill with the same soil removed to dig the hole
  • Do not pile soil against the stem of the tree. You want to see the ‘root flare’ where the trunk meets the root ball.
  • Ensure that the top of the root ball is visible.
  • Make sure all sides of the root ball are filled with soil
    and there aren’t air pockets.
  • Firmly push down the soil with your foot around the edge of the root ball.
  • Place 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the edge of the root ball. Do not pile mulch against the stem.



  • A rule for watering is long deep soakings. This is best achieved using drip irrigation or a tree bag. A hose put on trickle will also work. The goal is to get the water down to the bottom of the roots.
  • Water once a week or more during dry conditions.


  • Using a staked to support your trees in windy areas is recommended. Remove your stakes after one year

If you have any questions about tree planting or are deciding whether you need expert help to plant trees on your property click here to learn more about our arbourist consulting services.