Before digging, please call Gopher State One Call at 811 to identify the location of any underground utilities. This is a requirement by state law.
Digging a Hole
Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly shallower than the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil.
Planting a Potted Tree
If you are planting a potted tree, gently remove the tree from the container. Lay the tree on its side with the container end near the planting hole. Hit the bottom and sides of the container until the root ball is loosened. If roots are growing in a circular pattern around the root ball, slice through the roots on a couple of sides. If your tree is burlap wrapped, remove the string or wire that holds the burlap to the root crown. It is not necessary to completely remove the burlap. Plastic wraps must be completely removed. Gently separate circling roots on the root ball, shorten exceptionally long roots, and guide the shortened roots downward and outward. Root tips die quickly when exposed to light and air.
Place the root ball in the hole. Leave the top of the root ball (where the roots end and the trunk begins) 1/2 to 1 inch above the surrounding soil, making sure not to cover it unless roots are exposed. For bare root plants, make a mound of soil in the middle of the hole and spread plant roots out evenly over mound. Do not set trees too deep. As you add soil to fill in around the tree, lightly tamp the soil to collapse air pockets, or add water to help settle the soil. Form a temporary water basin around the base of the tree to encourage water penetration, and water thoroughly after planting. A tree with a dry root ball cannot absorb water; if the root ball is extremely dry, allow water to trickle into the soil by placing the hose at the trunk of the tree. Mulch around the tree.