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Easiest Way to Dig a Hole to Plant a Tree

By Cleveland Van Cecil ; Updated September 21, 2017
Digging the right size hole for a tree when planting is essential to its success.
tree sparrow and brambling on tree in winter image by Lars Lachmann from Fotolia.com

According to the University of Missouri Extension, 90 percent of the actively absorbing root tips of a tree are within a foot of the surface. This means planting the tree properly is essential to its success as a mature tree. Digging the hole for a new tree requires knowing how deep to dig, how wide to dig and how to prepare the soil for the new tree. Doing this properly requires a little elbow grease, but doing it right once means less work in the end.

Measure the size of the tree's root ball, using a measuring tape. Dig the hole so that it is 1 to 2 feet wider than the root ball, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. The University of Missouri says the hole should be no deeper than the depth the tree was buried at the nursery.

Place a tarp next to the digging area and throw dirt onto the tarp. This makes moving the soil easier if necessary, and makes filling the hole as easy as lifting the tarp.

Lower the tree into the hole and inspect the roots. If no roots larger than 1/2 inch in diameter are at the top 2 inches of the ball, plant the tree 2 inches higher, says the University of Missouri Extension.

Remove the burlap bag from the root ball and pull the tree out from underneath the tree. Lift the tarp and drain the soil back into the hole.

Water the soil immediately after planting to settle the soil around the root ball. Lightly water the tree every day for the first week, watering every second day on the second week, then every third day the third week.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Measuring tape
  • Tarp