How to Plant Spruce & Pine Trees


Pines and spruce are both evergreen trees, and often used as Christmas trees. Pines are more tolerant of different types of soil than spruce trees, but the biggest difference is in the tree itself. A pine's needles are arranged in bundles of two, three or five. A spruce's needles do not have such an arrangement, and have a more formal outline than a pine tree.

Step 1

Test the soil at the planting site for nutrient quality and pH level. Adjust the soil as needed--if it is too acidic for the particular cultivar you chose, till limestone into the top 6 inches of soil. If it is too alkaline, add compost to the top 6 inches of soil. If the soil test shows lacking nutrients, amend with a nutrient-specific fertilizer by tilling it into the top 6 inches of soil. Ensure that the soil is well-draining. Many cultivars are drought-tolerant, and do not do well if the soil is soaked.

Step 2

Water the pine or spruce while still in its container. If you have a bare root tree, soak the roots in water for at least eight hours to ensure that the roots have soaked up enough moisture before planting.

Step 3

Dig a planting hole three times the size of the root ball and as deep as the root ball. Most pine and spruce cultivars have shallow root systems, so be sure the planting hole is in an area that is protected from high winds. Scarify the sides of the planting hole with a pitchfork. Fill the planting hole with water, then center the pine or spruce in the planting hole. Backfill with soil.

Step 4

Water with at least an inch of water. Watering deeply and less frequently allows the deeper roots to obtain the moisture needed for a healthy tree. Frequent, shallow watering encourages shallow root growth, and the most pines and spruce trees already have a shallow root system.

Step 5

Mulch the pine or spruce with at least 3 inches of compost or pulverized bark. The mulch helps the area retain moisture and protects the shallow tree roots from extreme temperature changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pitchfork
  • Compost or pulverized bark
  • Limestone (optional)
  • Compost (optional)
  • Fertilizer (optional)


  • Michigan State University Department of Forestry: Tree Planting in Michigan
  • Ohio State University: Evergreen Trees for Ohio
Keywords: pine and spruce, planting pine, planting spruce

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Cayden Conor is a family law paralegal who writes on various subjects including dogs, cockatoos and cooking. She has over 15 years of experience as a paralegal, and has been writing professionally for three years. Conor has a paralegal degree and majored in criminology, computer science (programming emphasis) and education.