One of the advantages of purchasing bareroot fruit trees is a chance to get a look at the roots of the sapling. Look for trees with healthy, moist roots with many root hairs. One of the disadvantages of a bareroot fruit tree is its moisture needs. The roots must be kept moist at all times until planting. If the fruit tree won't be planted for more than one day, pack the tree's roots in a container of moist sand until it is planted.
Inspect the fruit tree's roots. Prune away any broken or damaged roots just above the compromised area. Prune any unusually long roots (keep the taproot longer than the side roots) or roots that cross over others.
Soak the tree in a bucket of water for between three and 12 hours before planting it.
Dig a hole that is three times the width of the spread of the fruit tree's roots and as deep as they are long.
Set aside 1/3 of the soil from the pile of excavated soil, replace it with an equal amount of aged compost and mix it in well.
Create a cone in the bottom of the hole with the soil mixture. Make the cone large enough to splay the fruit tree's roots over it and tall enough so that the top of its root crown (the juncture where the roots end and the trunk begins) sits roughly 2 inches above the surface of the soil.
Backfill the hole with the soil mixture. Moisten the soil in the hole when it is filled halfway. Finish filling the hole. Do not cover the top of the tree's roots with more than 1 inch of soil. Pat the soil down gently with your hands.
Water the soil to the depth of the rootball. Lay a slow-running hose near the base of the plant until the planting area is quite moist. Continue to keep the soil moist for the saplings first year of growth.
Prune the branches of a fruit tree sapling back by 50 percent with a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears.
Spread a 2-inch layer of organic mulch around the planting area (roughly 3 feet in diameter), but keep it at least 3 to 4 inches away from the trunk.