When planting a container-grown tree, dig a hole that is two to three times wider than the diameter of the container. The depth of the hole should be 2 to 3 inches less than the height of the soil ball. Slope the sides of the hole so the top is several inches wider than the bottom. In poorly drained soils, the depth of the hole should be approximately two-thirds of the height of the soil ball.
Once the hole has been prepared, carefully lay the tree on its side. Tap the sides of the container to loosen the soil ball from the container, then slide the tree out of its container. All containers should be removed, even purportedly plantable containers. If the sides of the soil ball are a mass of roots, carefully shave off the outer one-half to 1 inch of the soil ball with a sharp spade or saw. Place the tree in the hole. The top of the soil ball should be 2 to 3 inches above the surrounding soil. In poorly drained sites, the top one-third of the soil ball should stick above the surrounding soil.
Gradually fill the hole with soil. With each new addition of soil, firm it in place with your hands. Place soil to the top of the soil ball and gradually slope it down to the surrounding soil. Once planted, water thoroughly.
Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on May 8, 2015. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.