How to Plant a Big Tree


Although it's easier and less expensive to plant a small tree, it means waiting several years for the tree to grow large enough to add visual appeal, and even more years before the tree turns into a beautiful mature tree for cool shade on hot summer days. Although larger trees can be more difficult to maneuver and may require sturdy tools and a few extra hands, you can plant big trees successfully and add instant charm and beauty to the landscape.

Step 1

Ask at least one person to help you. Planting a big tree is more difficult, and an extra pair of hands will increase the chances your tree is planted properly and without mishaps.

Step 2

Dig a wide, shallow hole double or triple the width of the tree's root ball, but no higher than the height of the root ball. It's crucial that the tree isn't planted too deeply, as the tree can suffocate if the crown is buried. The crown is the point where the tree trunk joins the roots. Be sure the hole is the proper size before planting, because once the tree is placed in the hole, it will be very difficult to move.

Step 3

Move the tree near the planting hole. Lay the tree carefully on its side. Use a crowbar or a hammer to remove the wooden bottom from the box. Handle the tree by the box and never grab the tree by its trunk.

Step 4

Stand the tree up next to the hole. Look at the shape of the tree, then turn the tree so it faces the right way.

Step 5

Use sheet metal snippers to cut the binding strap around the lower part of the box. Ask your assistant to help you place the tree in the hole. If the tree is extremely large, slide two boards under the box and slide the box carefully into the hole.

Step 6

Position the tree in the hole and be sure the trunk is straight. Cut the binding strip around the top of the box, then use a crowbar or a hammer to remove the sides of the box.

Step 7

Fill the hole half full with the same soil you just removed. Allow a garden hose to run until the hole is full of water, then allow the water to settle. Finish filling the hole with soil.

Step 8

Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as shredded bark or dry, chopped grass around the perimeter of the tree. Leave an area uncovered immediately around the tree, as the mulch shouldn't be allowed to touch the trunk. Mulch will retain moisture, deter weeds and establish a boundary so the tree won't be as likely to be injured by a mower or weed whacker.

Step 9

Water the tree whenever the top of the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. Water deeply, saturating the top 8 to 12 inches of soil. Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Crowbar or hammer
  • Sheet metal snipper
  • Two boards (optional)
  • Garden hose
  • Organic mulch


  • Learn2Grow: How to Plant a Large Tree
  • University of Illinois: Correct Tree Planting
  • University of Illinois: New Tree Care
Keywords: plant large tree, plant big tree, big tree planting, large tree planting

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.