After planting about 80 fruit trees with my dad, I realized that the process can be very fun as long as you make sure the fruit tree is having fun as well. We hope that these planting instructions help you start your planting journey well.   – Mané Mehrabyan

Materials Needed

  • Another helper to hold the tree vertically (will need two sets of hands)
  • A bucket/bin to soak the tree roots in water
  • A shovel or spade for digging
  • For dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, a stake/post to place next to the tree
    • Something to bang the post in (a hammer or rock will do)
    • Tree ties to connect the stake to the tree
  • Tree guards for protecting against animal damage
  • 1-2 Gallons of Water

Instructions

We recommend planting soon after the trees arrive. If it’s raining or you cannot plant yet, then cover the roots with sawdust or soil and keep them moist and out of direct sun, a garage will do.  

Tree Preparation

  • When the trees arrive in a box, pull out the trees and place them in a cool (not freezing) place out of the sun, e.g. your garage.
  • Keep the roots in the plastic wrap so that they are protected and stay moist. We recommend planting soon after you receive the trees but if you need to wait for more that a week to plant, be sure to keep the roots wet by spraying with water. 
  • When you are ready to plant, take the roots out of the plastic and soak them in water for several hours. Do NOT soak for more than 24 hours.

Soil Preparation

  • The planting area should be prepared before the planting. The pH should be around 6.0-7.0 and there should be nutrients throughout the planting area, not just in the spot you will plant. 

Digging

  • Dig a hole that is about 18” deep and 18” in diameter. Bring the soaking trees next to the planting site without the roots drying out.

Placing

  • Put some soil in a cone shape in the hole so that when you place the tree down, the roots slope down and fan out. Trim the roots as needed so that they do not twist. This will enable the tree to spread its roots further. 
  • The graft union for apple trees where the rootstock meets the top of the tree should be about 2 inches above ground level. If it is covered by soil then the tree will grow to a standard size and not have the characteristics of the rootstock.

Staking

  • If you have a dwarf or semi-dwarf apple tree, we recommend putting a stake next to it which helps the tree grow straight. Place a solid metal stake 8’-10’ tall next to the tree and pound it in so that it is secure and can bear weight. This step can also be done after you fill the tree in with soil.

Filling

  • Holding the tree vertically, place the nutrient rich topsoil you dug out back near the roots. Once half the soil is placed around the tree, carefully press the soil down with your feet to destroy air pockets. Do NOT put fertilizer or compost into the hole as this will stop the tree from spreading its roots. 
  • Put the rest of the soil on top and press down repeatedly with your foot.
  • If the tree is on a slope, create a 2’ rim of soil around the tree above ground level to keep the water around the tree.

Watering

  • Immediately after planting, water the tree with about 1-2 gallons of water. If the soil goes down, add more soil. For the first year, water about one to two times a week with 1-2 gallons of water.

Protecting

  • Immediately after planting the tree, place a tree guard around the trunk to protect it from rabbits and rodents who will eat the bark and kill your tree. The tree guards should let air flow in. Mouse guards which rap around the bark are the best protectors but they aren’t recommended in the summer since insects can create habitats between the mouse guard and the bark. 
  • Cover the top of the soil near the tree with mulch so that the moisture stays in the soil and weeds are less likely to grow. The mulch should not touch the bark of the tree

Maintaining 

  • Read more in our blog about how to prune and take care of the tree so that the tree can survive, stay stimulated, and bear fruit. 

 

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