How to Plant a Bare Root Tree

Planting bare root trees is a fun and economical way to have lush green trees on your property without the higher cost of purchasing established trees. Although it is not difficult to do, it is important to keep in mind some specific guidelines in order maximize your chances for success. By following these easy steps, you can turn your brown thumb into a green thumb in no time.


  1. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 1
    Carefully unpack the bare root tree from the container or material it came in. Be careful not to damage any of the roots during the unpacking process. If you do damage a few, nip them off with a pair of sterilized pruners.
  2. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 2
    Set the tree into a bucket filled with water. Allow the tree to soak for 4-6 hours prior to planting. This will allow the roots of the tree to soak up water and not dry out during the initial shock of planting.
  3. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 3
    Dig a hole slightly larger than the diameter and depth of the tree and soil width. For example, if the tree roots and soil are 50 centimeter (19.7 in) /20" wide, dig a hole 60 centimeter (23.6 in) /2' wide to allow for maximum root spread.
  4. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 4
    Check to be sure there are no large weed roots in the hole you have dug. If these are left there, they will compete with the new tree and might restrict its growth. Add your organic material to the hold and mix well. This will get your young tree off to a good start.
  5. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 5
    Plant the tree so that where the roots meet the base of the tree. This is known as the "root collar" and it should be level with the ground. Placing dirt around the tree trunk above the root ball will cause the tree to grow in a way that will make it likely to fall over prematurely.
  6. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 6
    Shovel the remaining dirt from the container. Add more if necessary into the hole, taking care to pack the soil firmly around the tree.
  7. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 7
    Build a water basin around the outside of the tree. Give the tree plenty of water.
  8. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 8
    Add a mulch area of a metre /a yard wide and 5 centimeter (2.0 in) / 2" deep around the tree base. Be sure not to let the mulch touch the tree itself. Leave an area approximately 10–20 centimeter (3.9–7.9 in) / 4-6" inches around the trunk of the tree. It allows the tree to breath and a space to check the base for any possible problems or insect damage.
  9. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 9
    Water the tree again and again. Water it every two weeks, throughout its first summer. If your area is experiencing a heavy long term drought, do take the time to water your young trees in the winter about every 2 weeks. Trees get very stressed under those type of weather conditions and need the additional moisture to help them survive and thrive.
  10. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 10
    Stake large trees. If the tree is fairly large, it will need to be staked for a year. Hammer a metre-long (39") stake into the ground before planting the tree, at a 45 degree angle and for three quarters of its length, in a position so that the top of the stake is above where the tree is being planted. Then tie the tree stem to the stake with a rubber tree tie.
  11. Image titled Plant a Bare Root Tree Step 11
    Remove the stake after a year. After one year, the tree should be securely rooted, and the stake will hinder the tree's future growth. Remove the rubber tree tie, and saw off the stake at soil level. Be careful not to injure the young tree accidentally with the saw.


  • Try to gently loosen the roots of the tree a little bit before planting the tree. Roots that are constricted do not grow as well and are not able to provide as much water to the tree, something that is critical especially during the critical time the tree is first planted.


  • Be sure not to wait more than a day or two to put a bare root tree into the ground after purchase. If the bare root tree is not planted in time, there is a chance it can dry out the roots and kill the tree. If you can't plant it right away, cover the roots fully with wet sand or soil as a temporary measure.

Things You'll Need

  • A shovel
  • Some mulch
  • A watering can or hose
  • Soil
  • A bucket

Article Info

Categories: Growing Trees and Shrubs