How to Plant a Balled Tree


Wrapping a small tree's roots in burlap contains the roots for transportation. Planting a balled and burlapped (B&B) tree will require site selection for that particular species of tree. According to South Dakota Extension Service, most balled and burlapped trees range in size from 1 to 3 inches in trunk diameter. Some B&B trees may contain a wire cage that holds the burlap in place. Other B&B trees are wrapped in pieces of twine.

Step 1

Dig the planting hole for the balled tree at the same depth as the height of the root ball. Make the diameter of the hole two to three times the overall root ball diameter.

Step 2

Remove all broken and dead branches from the tree using pruning shears.

Step 3

Set the tree into the planting hole. Align the top of the soil level of the balled tree with the existing soil level in the new location.

Step 4

Cut away the twine or the wire cage using the knife or wire cutters. Fold the twine or wire down inside the hole. It is not necessary to remove the twine or wire from the hole.

Step 5

Pull back the burlap from the top of the root ball. Fold the burlap down around the outside perimeter of the roots. Natural burlap will decompose in the hole. If synthetic burlap is wrapped around the roots, it will have to be removed from the hole.

Step 6

Fill the hole with approximately one-third of the native soil. Add water to settle the soil around the roots. Continue to add soil to the two-thirds level. Add water and allow the soil to settle. Fill the hole with soil. Add water one more time to finish removing air from around the roots and improve the soil contact.

Step 7

Layer mulch around the tree to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Keep the mulch 12 inches away from the trunk to discourage rodents from chewing on the tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not add fertilizer to the newly planted tree. Wait two years, after the tree has established in its new location before fertilization.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Wire cutters (optional)
  • Knife (optional)
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • South Dakota State University: Planting a Balled and Burlapped Tree (PDF)
  • University of Minnesota: Planting Bare Root, Containerized, Balled and Burlapped Trees/Shrubs
Keywords: burlap wrap roots, plant burlap trees, balled roots

About this Author

G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.