How to Successfully Plant a High Desert Tree

Plant trees to fill our your landscaping, increase shade, and protect your home from the sun. Learn how to select the proper tree for your site, dig a hole, plant the tree, enrich and backfill the soil, water properly, when to stake the tree, how to mulch, and when to fertilize. Watch the video or read the text below. 

How to Plant a Tree

First, select the proper plant for your site.  Consider:

  • Will the space be sufficient when the tree is mature?
  • Exposure to sun and wind, cold air sinks, and drainage
  • Soil compatibility with your tree’s needs 

Planting hole:

  • Dig hole at least two times as wide as root ball and deep enough so top of root ball is even with ground level.  The top of the root ball can be determined by identifying the root flare.
  • B&B trees need to have root ball sit 2-3” higher than existing grade.
  • Slightly squaring the planting hole will encourage roots to spread out, rather than circle round.
  • Loosen sides of planting hole.

Planting:

  • Your tree should start off well- watered in the pot.
  • Remove plant from container.
  • Carefully loosen any pot bound roots and cut any circling roots before placing the root ball in the hole.  If roots are extremely compacted, make a few shallow cuts through the roots on the sides and bottom of the root ball.  Tease roots.
  • Identify the graft union – the slightly swollen juncture between the rootstock and the trunk of the tree and orient it to the east/northeast in the planting hole.

Enriching your soil & backfilling:

  • Use composted organic matter to amend the soil every time you plant. We recommend G&B Organics Soil Building conditioner (SBC). Other specialty amendments are available – Acid Planting mix, for example - and may make sense to use in your particular situation.
  • Mix amendments at a rate of 30% to 70% existing soil and work in slow release G&B Organics Starter or All Purpose Fertilizer at recommended rates. For a tree this size it will be 3 3/4 cups of Starter fertilizer. Mix thoroughly and backfill the planting hole.
  • When hole is about half refilled, straighten and level the plant and carefully tamp down the soil.
  • Water with SUPERthrive, then continue to backfill with amended soil.
  • Use excess soil to build a berm 6 to 10 inches from the outside of the hole.
  • Water again with SUPERthrive.

Watering:

  • It is critical that a drip system be added with emitters placed directly over the root ball, not the amended soil.
  • Water should directly drip into the root ball.
  • Water 1-4 times a week, depending on the weather.
  • Adjust your water as the tree becomes established.

Staking:

  • A tree should only be staked when necessary – when roots are not solid in the planting hole or where it could be dislodged by high winds.

Mulching:

  • Add a 2-3 inch layer of G&B Organics SBC to the plant.  Keep mulch 3-4 inches from the trunk.

Fertilizing:

  • Do not fertilize trees or shrubs during the rest of the year with the exception of slow release G&B Organics Starter or All Purpose Fertilizer used at time of planting.

Most Common reasons that plants fail to grow or thrive:

  • Plant not a good choice for the specific location
  • Root ball not properly prepared or loosened when planting
  • Inappropriate watering; either too much or too little, or even some of both
  • Plants are too deep in the planting hole, have settled too deeply or the root crown has become buried
  • Failure to maintain proper nutrition