How to Plant River Birch Trees


River birch trees are large trees that are conducive to growing in an area along stream banks or lakes where they can get plenty of water. Their small hanging leaves provide cool shade during hot summer days, and the shaggy bark is an attractive addition to the backyard landscape, even in winter. The river birch is the best-suited tree of the birches for hot weather. If you are planting a river birch tree, there are a few requirements you should know before you get started.

Step 1

Select a site where the river birch tree can reach down to a high water table for its source of water, or else you will have to dump gallons of water around it just for it to survive. Although it needs a lot of water, it does not tolerate soggy soil, so find a spot where rain will drain quickly. Try to find a spot with slightly acidic soil, as is found under trees.

Step 2

Dig a hole that is at least as deep as the container the river birch tree is currently growing in. Make the width about 6 inches wider in all directions so the roots of the tree will have space to stretch out. You can add some compost material to give the new tree a boost, but it will only be a temporary help, since the tree's roots will extend far beyond the hole in a few years.

Step 3

Take the birch tree out of the container and loosen the soil around the roots, so that any roots that were circling the container are stretched out. Set the tree into the hole and straighten it so that it sits securely in the base of the hole.

Step 4

Add the soil back into the hole around the root ball. Tamp it down well with the heel of your boot, so that there is good contact between the soil and the roots. Fill the hole completely and water the tree heavily afterward.


  • Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry: How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree
  • USDA: River Birch
Keywords: river birch, river birch trees, plant river birch

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.