Tree Installation

Proper tree installation ensures the long-term viability of the tree and reduces the risk of tree failure. Below are a few tips and things to look out for when planting.

Quality Stock

Quality nursery stock must be used. There must be no visible damage or sign of disease. Ideally the tree should have good crown structure. A healthy root ball shouldn't have circling roots and new fibrous roots should be present at the soil perimeter. Girdling or circling roots should be pruned out. Excess soil above the root flare should be removed immediately, since it presents a risk of disease ingress into the trunk.

Appropriate Time of Year to Plant

Generally fall or early spring in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

Planting Hole

The planting hole should be 3 times the width of the root ball. The hole should be dug deep enough that when the root ball is placed on the substrate, the root flare is 3-5cm above the surrounding soil grade. If soil is left against the trunk, it may lead to bark, cambium and wood decay. Angular sides to the planting hole will encourage roots to grow radially from the trunk, rather than circling the planting hole. In urban settings, soil preparation may include the use of:

  • Silva cells: suspended pavement over modular cells containing soil for root development
  • Structural soils: growing medium composed of 80% crushed rock and 20% loam, which supports surface load without it leading to soil compaction

Tree Wells

A zone of mulch can be installed around the tree trunk to: limit root zone competition (from turf or weeds), reduce soil compaction, improve soil structure, conserve moisture, and keep lawn equipment at a distance. No more than 5-10cm of mulch should be used to avoid suffocating the roots. Mulch must be kept approximately 20cm from the trunk to avoid burying the root flare. With city trees additional tree well preparation includes:

  • Tree grates/grill and frames: limit compaction on root zone and mechanical damage to roots and trunk

  • Root barriers: forces roots to grow down under surface asphalt/concrete/pavers to limit infrastructure damage from roots


Newly planted, immature trees should be staked for one growing season to allow for the root system to establish. Staking for longer than one season should only be considered in situations where the root system has failed to establish sufficient structural support. Guy wires can be used for larger, newly planted trees. Care must be used to avoid stem girdling from the support system ties.


Irrigation infrastructure may be installed to ensure a regular water supply throughout the lifetime of the tree. Wicking beds are an underground reservoir from which water is wicked into soil. Watering bags may be temporarily installed around tree stakes to provide water until the root system becomes established. Permeable paving allows for water infiltration in paved urban settings, such as parks and walkways.

Content source: Wikipedia

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