River Birch Tree Planting Instructions


Unlike its white counterparts, the river birch displays reddish-brown bark that peels off in strips. While river birch trees can grow up to 90 feet tall, according to the United States Forest Service, a more typical height is 40 to 50 feet. Native to North America, the river birch can grow in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9A. River birch trees are moderately drought-tolerant, though they thrive along stream banks and other wet areas. Plant them in part shade, part sun or full sun.

Step 1

Test your site's soil's pH, using a test kit. River birch trees need an acidic pH lower than 6.5 to prevent chlorosis, according to the Arnold Arboretum.

Step 2

Add lime to lower your soil's pH if necessary. To lower soil pH by one point, add 3.6 oz. of sulfur in all soil types except sandy soils, or mix in compost, wood chips or peat moss.

Step 3

Dig a hole twice as wide and equally deep as the birch sapling's container, using a shovel. Remove your river birch from its container. Break apart the root ball with your hands to untangle the birch tree's roots.

Step 4

Place the tree in the hole at the same depth as it was planted in the container. Spread the roots out with your fingers. Fill in the hole with soil.

Step 5

Build a 4-inch moat or berm around the birch trunk. Fill the berm with water.

Step 6

Water the tree with 1 qt. daily for one week, then provide the same amount of water every other day for the second week. Decrease the amount of water over the next two weeks until you are watering once weekly.

Step 7

Fill in the berm with mulch to help the soil retain moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil pH test kit
  • Sulfur (optional)
  • Peat moss (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • United States Forest Service: River Birch
  • Aggie Horticulture: Planting a Tree
  • Arnold Arboretum: The River Birch
  • The Garden Helper: Acid Soil
Keywords: river birch tree, tree planting guide, birch planting instructions

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.