Trees Fall Color
Van Chaplin

Tree Planting 101

Now is the best time of year to plant a small tree to brighten your yard's autumn palette. Once you select the perfect tree and site, dig a hole as deep as the tree's root ball and twice as wide. A mattock and round-point shovel are essential for planting, and an ax comes in handy if the hole has lots of roots. Mix organic matter, such as sphagnum peat moss or soil conditioner, with the excavated soil.

Gently set the tree into the hole, placing the top of the root ball a couple of inches higher than the ground. If your tree was container-grown and the roots are matted together, use a pocketknife to loosen the roots.

Shovel half the amended backfill in the hole until the tree stands upright on its own. Step away, and make sure it's straight with the best side facing forward. Make any adjustments before shoveling in the remaining backfill. While filling, occasionally stop to pack the soil down against the root ball with your foot.

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