How to Plant a Poplar Tree


Poplar trees can survive winter temperatures that fall down to minus 35 degrees F. These deciduous trees grow 40 to 60 feet tall and spread 35 to 50 feet wide. Poplar trees can grow up to 10 feet a year and are one of the fastest growing shade tree varieties. These trees can survive in clay or sandy soil, and prefer full sun to partial shade exposure. Poplar trees are commonly used as windbreaks, highway beautification trees, wildlife habitat, firewood producers, folk medicine ingredients and landscape trees in yards.

Step 1

Consider the poplar tree's mature height when picking out your planting site. Before planting, watch the sun and figure out where the shade from the tree will fall. In hot climates, a poplar tree may be used to block the heat of direct sunlight from a structure which lowers the use of air conditioning during the summer.

Step 2

Remove all the weeds and brush from the planting site in the summer and early fall prior to planting. Work the soil up with a shovel to the depth of 24 inches. Remove rocks and break up large dirt clumps.

Step 3

Dig a hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the rootball in the early spring. Scrape the sides of the hole with the edge of the shovel to keep the soil loose. Hard packed soil will discourage the roots from expanding and restrict the growth of the poplar tree.

Step 4

Remove the burlap or plastic covering from the rootball. Cut the wrapping free with a sharp knife. Loosen the dirt and roots with your hands. Be careful not to remove the soil or damage the roots.

Step 5

Mound some of the soil in the bottom of the planting hole and rest the rootball on top of the soil mound. Align the top of the rootball with the top of the ground. Adjust the height by removing or adding soil to the bottom of the hole.

Step 6

Fill the hole halfway with soil and gently firm the soil around the roots of the poplar tree. Check to see if you have the tree standing straight. Finish filling the hole with soil and press the soil down with your feet. Flood the area with water, let it sink in and then water again.

Tips and Warnings

  • Deer and elk enjoy eating poplar trees so fence your trees in while they are young. Voles adore the bark and will girdle a poplar tree, which will kill the tree. Keep plant cover around the poplar tree to a minimum to eliminate hiding places for voles. Wrap the young tree trunks with foil, plastic or wire mesh to provide a deterrent for the voles feeding on the bark. Increase the size of the wrap as the poplar tree's trunk grows.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Poplar tree
  • Sharp knife
  • Water


  • Washington State University Cooperative Extension: Crop Profile for Hybrid Poplars in Washington & Oregon
  • North Dakota State University Extension: White Poplar
  • Fast Growing Trees Nursery: Poplar Planting Directions
Keywords: planting poplar tree, poplar tree care, planting deciduous tree

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.