How to Plant Tree Seedlings in Pennsylvania


Pennsylvania has a cool climate characterized by harsh winters and short, mild summers. Temperatures in Pennsylvania may drop as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. Because of this, it is important to plant trees in spring as soon as the temperature warms enough that seedlings can survive. This gives trees all summer to develop a strong root system that will help them survive the harsh Pennsylvania winter.

Step 1

Select a location for your tree that is in full sun with well-drained soil. Keep the eventual size of the tree in mind when selecting a location for seedlings. Avoid planting a tree seedling too close to a home or power lines, which could eventually cause difficulty for the tree's growth. Space your seedlings at least 30 feet apart to promote good air circulation between them and prevent disease.

Step 2

Dig a hole in the soil to test that it has drained from winter snow and frost. If the soil appears soggy, wait another two weeks to allow the soil to drain before planting seedlings.

Step 3

Remove all grass and weeds in strips around the tree location with a spade. Grass and weeds can compete with a seedling for water and nutrients found in the soil.

Step 4

Obtain seedlings just before planting them for the best success. Seedlings may be purchased from a nursery or obtained from the forestry service or other environmental groups.

Step 5

Dig a planting hole that is slightly wider, but no deeper, than the tree's root ball. Score the edges of the planting hole with your shovel to allow the roots of the tree to penetrate the edges of the hole and avoid a potted plant effect. Soak the roots of the root ball so that it is saturated before placing it in the planting hole. Prune away all dead or damaged roots as well as roots that wrap around the tree's trunk.

Step 6

Fill in the sides of the planting hole around the root ball with soil and cover the root ball with 1 inch of soil.

Step 7

Mulch around the tree with wood chips to prevent grass from sprouting again. To prevent disease, do not allow mulch to pile up around the tree's trunk. Water with up to 7 gallons of water weekly until the roots of the tree become established.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Seedlings
  • Mulch


  • Grow It: Pennsylvania USDA Hardiness Zone Map
  • Purdue University: Planting and Care of Fine Hardwood Seedlings
  • University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension: Planting and Care of Tree Seedlings
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Tree Planting Procedure for Small, Bare-Root Seedlings
Keywords: planting seedlings, Pennsylvania growing, raising trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."