Planting a tree is much more than just digging a hole and placing a tree in the ground. Before the actual planting process begins, considerations of the planting location and type of tree must be a completed. Certain state and municipal regulations may also apply when planting a tree in New York.
Identify the location in which the tree will be planted. Choose a location that provides at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure that the location is free from underground utility areas, septic tanks and overhead utility wires.
Determine if the soil is sandy, rocky, loamy or clay based, as this will help to determine the best tree for the area. Identify the quality of the soil, its pH levels and the drainage quality of the soil. Take soil sample to help qualify this, if necessary. Consider sending the soil samples to the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory for a detailed analysis report. This is available to all New York residents and businesses.
Select a tree that is suitable for the selected site's space, overhead and underground limitations and soil requirements. Use the information obtained during the site selection process to help identify the best options. Consider the use of the tree, whether for fruit, shade, barrier, etc. If located in a Asian Longhorned Beetle quarantine zone, ensure that the selected tree is not a host for the beetle. Speak with a local nursery or horticultural specialist for selection assistance, if needed.
Plant the tree just after the last spring frost. Dig a hole for the tree that is three times the diameter of the root ball and equivalent to the depth of the root ball. Avoid potential glazing of clay soils by poking the sides and bottom of the hole with a fork to promote water penetration and prevent barrier formation. Fill the hole with tepid water and allow the water to seep and settle.
Remove the newly purchased tree from its burlap and prepare it for planting. Gently remove the soil from the root while loosening the roots from the ball. Be careful not to stretch or pull the roots to avoid damage to the root system.
Place the tree in the center of the prepared hole and fill the hole with the soil so that the final surface is slightly raised from the surrounding surface. Gently press the soil around the tree to secure the tree's upright position. Ensure that there are no roots showing from around the base of the tree.
Water the tree thoroughly to promote the tree's healthy establishment. Do not fertilize newly planted trees. Allow the tree at least six months to establish itself before beginning the fertilization process. Select a fertilizer that meets the feeding requirements of the selected tree and the soil of the planting location.