Cherry trees are often grafted onto more vigorous, cold- or disease-resistant rootstock. When a graft is made on the lower trunk, a noticeable nodule or curve can develop in the trunk over time, which is called a "dog leg," according to Colorado State University, for its jointed appearance. When planted or transplanted, cherry trees benefit from having the inner curve of the notch facing north and the swollen outer edge of the curve facing south to protect the graft bark from cold damage.
Excavate a planting hole for your cherry tree that is two to three times the diameter of the root ball and as deep as the root ball.
Slide the tree from its container or burlap wrap and set it down in the hole. Turn the tree in the hole so that the scooped out "dogleg" or concave spot on the lower trunk where the graft was made is facing north. This orientation prevents winter injury to the more delicate bark at the graft.
Align the tree vertically in the hole so that the tree canopy is centered over the root ball, and ignore any curvature of the trunk in between as it will grow and self-correct over time.
Backfill the soil around the root ball to secure the tree upright in the hole. Tamp down the soil lightly halfway through the backfill process to ensure good root-to-soil contact.
Water the tree to drench the soil 6 inches down to settle the tree into the soil and relieve the roots from drought stress.