How to Plant a Tree or Shrub

It is important to ensure proper usage of compost or manure when planting. Adding too much manure or compost to backfill will make the soil closest to the root ball much richer than the soil surrounding the tree. The roots of will never grow beyond this basin of enriched soil and the tree will eventually girdle itself to death. The mixture for backfilling should be one part compost or manure to two parts soil.

Materials Required:

  • Tree or shrub
  • Compost or manure
  • Transplant fertilizer (10-52-10 formula)
  • Spade or shovel


  1. Dig a hole that is approximately 1½ - 2 times the width of the root ball and slightly deeper than the height of the root ball.
  2. Amend the soil removed while digging the hole by mixing it with compost or manure to loosen up the soil, add nutrients, and improve drainage. 
  3. Put a shallow layer of backfill in the bottom of the hole.  
  4. Remove the tree/shrub from its pot, place it in the centre of the hole, and fill the hole halfway with backfill. Apply light pressure to firm the backfill as you fill the hole; never pack it hard with your feet.  
  5. Once the hole is half full, water the tree/shrub with transplant fertilizer to remove air pockets from the soil.
  6. Continue to fill the hole with backfill, lightly firming the soil while filling. Do not plant the tree or shrub deeper than it was planted in the pot because soil that is piled up against its trunk can damage the tree.  
  7. Construct a ring of soil 2-3 inches high at the outside edge of the hole to form a water basin at the base of the tree. This basin will allow water to slowly soak into the ground during the establishment period. Water the tree/shrub with transplant fertilizer again once the basin is constructed.