Re-enter admin mode
Please or register


Tree/Shrub Planting Guide

Planting Bare Root Trees

A bare root tree is a tree that has been lifted out of the ground during its non-growing season and is supplied without a pot or soil. They must be planted into their permanent location as soon as possible.


Can’t Plant Right Away?

If you’re not able to plant them right away, the roots will need to be protected and kept moist, but not soaking wet. Three methods of holding them over are suggested here, below the planting tips.


Before Planting

To soak or not to soak? Some say that before planting you should soak the tree roots in a large bucket of tepid water, submerging them entirely, for about half an hour to give them a good drink.

Prepare the site by removing all weeds and grass, ideally, a metre around your desired planting hole. Dig a hole the same depth as the roots of the tree, and wide enough to easily accommodate the overall size of the roots. 

The collar of the tree should be above ground level once the tree is placed in the hole. Planting too deeply is one of the main causes of failure in bare root trees, so it’s important to make sure your planting hole is the right depth. A quick and easy way to check this is by temporarily placing your tree in the hole, and then laying a straight edge over the top of the hole. The collar should be just above the level of the straight edge. 


Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Some say DO NOT add compost or manure into the hole as it could burn the roots of your tree.   However, if your soil is very poor or almost pure sand, you can add good soil into the hole. But, never add good soil into the hole when planting in clay. The good soil will absorb water like a sponge, which will form a pool of water when surrounded by the clay walls. This could drown the tree.
As you backfill, give the trunk a gentle shake to remove any air pockets and to help the soil fill the gaps and crevices between the roots. 

Take care not to bank the soil up over the collar of the tree as this can cause rotting. Gently press the soil to firm it.  Give your tree a good soak by pouring water directly at the base of the tree 



How To Hold Over a Bare Root Tree 


Method 1: If not ready to plant, check first to see if the roots are still moist. If the roots are feeling dry, submerge them in a bucket of tepid water for a few minutes. Shake off any excess water and re-cover with the bag. You may also keep the roots moist by repacking them in moist material: moist autumn leaves, wood chips, or even shredded newspaper will suffice. It will help to store them somewhere cool and dark with the bag around the roots. It is ideal to store the tree at a temperature of 40ºF, but anything under 60ºF should work for a short period of time. You may put them in an unheated garage or against the north side of the house. 

Method 2: Another way to hold a trees in good condition before planting is to heel them in. Simply dig a shallow hole—just deep enough for the roots—on the cool, north side of your house, and temporarily plant the tree there. To do this, start by digging a sloping trench long and wide enough to hold the roots. Ideally, this should be in a shady, sheltered location. Lay the tree in this trench, with the roots against the steep side. Then, cover the roots with soil, and soak with water. As soon as possible, plant trees in their permanent location as you normally would.


If you have multiple trees, these can be heeled in together

The hole should be large enough to easily accommodate the size of all the tree roots. Make sure they are packed together and that their root collars are at roughly the same level. When you cover the roots try not to cover the collar of the trees. Gently firm the soil down to remove any air pockets and give the roots a soaking of water to keep them moist.


Method 3: You may also successfully hold trees for planting by laying their roots on top of the ground and then covering them with a few inches of moist wood chips or leaves—once again, on the north side of the house.


For more tips and details: