How to Plant a Potted Tree


Trees add a natural beauty to the landscape, increase the value of the property and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. A number of trees may also provide shade, fruits or nuts. Planting trees properly ensures they will grow to their full potential and live for a long time in your yard. Many trees come in pots or containers from nurseries or garden centers. Planting potted trees requires planning. Choose trees suited for your location for the best results.

Step 1

Select a location to plant the potted tree that has full sun and well-draining soil. Space the tree far enough away from other things to provide the room needed for its mature height and width.

Step 2

Cultivate an area ranging from two to five times the size of the width of the pot holding the tree. Use a rototiller or hand tool to loosen the soil to the depth of the pot. Dig a hole in the center of the area the same depth of the container.

Step 3

Carefully remove the tree from the pot and inspect the root ball. Loosen any tangled roots and cut off any damaged or broken ones.

Step 4

Place the previously potted tree in the hole. Check the height and add (or remove) more dirt, if needed, until the tree is at the same height it was in the pot.

Step 5

Fill the hole halfway with the soil you removed. Add water to the hole to settle the dirt around the tree's roots. Finish filling the hole when the water drains.

Step 6

Make a ring encircling the tree slightly larger than the planting hole from the leftover soil. Use the shovel to create a wall at least 3 inches high and wide. This wall makes it easier to water the newly planted tree.

Step 7

Fill the watering ring with water and allow it to drain. Add more soil to the wall for any leaks created or on top of the tree's base, if the root ball is exposed after settling.

Step 8

Cover an area at least 3 feet in diameter or as big as the tree's canopy with a 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch. Keep the mulch 6 inches clear of the tree's trunk.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add anything to the soil, such as fertilizers, that may damage or kill the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Knife
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • USDA: Tree Planting
  • Texas A&M University: Planting a Tree

Who Can Help

  • American Forests: How to Plant a Tree
  • Tree Planting: How to Plant a Tree
Keywords: planting potted trees, container tree, plant tree

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.