Can I replant a new tree in the same spot after an old tree has been removed?

FAQ
Question: 

Can I replant a new tree in the same spot after an old tree has been removed?

Answer: 

A new planting site is best for any new tree.  While planting a new tree in the exact same spot as a tree that was removed is possible, it is not advised.  If any of the the old tree's roots are still in the ground, the newly planted young tree may not have enough room to grow.  The sawdust left behind from grinding and removing a stump usually drastically changes the structure and nutrient balance of the soil making it difficult for the new tree to grow.  Additionally, the old tree likely utlized many of the nutrients in the soil that the young tree would rely on.  Finally, if the old tree was removed because of a disease or pest issue, that same issue could be present in the soil and infect the new tree.

You can select a locaton to plant a new tree that is near the old tree's stump.  Usually most of the issues with soil structure, nutrients, and physical space occupied by old roots can be avoided by planting at least three feet, but idealy six to eight feet away from the removed tree.

If a new tree must be located in the same location as the tree that was removed, establishment will be difficult but there are a few things you can do to make that new tree more likely to be successful. 

  • While the best time to plant a tree was yesterday and the second best time is today, you can wait a few years before replanting.  This will allow the old tree's roots to decompose.  At minimum, a year or two will be needed for this decomposition to be far enough along to make a difference for the new tree.  
  • If the previous tree was removed because of a disease or insect issue, be sure to replant with a species that will not be affected by the disease that killed the old tree.
  • Prepare the site well.  Remove the stump and all of the sawdust from the stump grinding.  Chop out and remove as many of the roots as possible and add in compost and topsoil to fill the hole and give good soil for the new tree to establish in.
  • Do not plant a new tree in the decomposing stump of an old one.  While occasionally this will be observed in nature, planting a new tree in the decaying stump will not be successful because of the soil composition, space for rooting, and moisture availablity.