Summary Planting Diagram
Douglas L. Airhart & Guy Zimmerman III

Web Site Guide: [Home]


Right Tree / Right Place

Selecting Trees

Transplanting Trees

Mulching & Staking

Summary Diagram 

Pruning Trees

Topping Hurts!

Protecting Trees

Tree Root Myths

Pine Bark Beetles

Live Christmas Trees


List of Figures

List of Video Vignettes

Related Links



Good Planting Techniques:  (several diagrams may require longer loading times)

Summary Planting Diagram: 

Illustration from Principles and Practice of Planting Trees and Shrubs, copyright International Society of Arboriculture. Used with permission. (Figure 6-1) 

An Excellent Summary of Planting, Mulching and Staking Recommendations.

Note this hole is shallow and wide and is not deeper than the root ball.

(Figure 6-2) Example of Proper Hole.

Note: This hole is shallow and wide rather than narrow and too deep.


From Making Tree Roots Visible, Part 2, Used with permission of Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, (Appleton et al., 2000).
Birmingham Green, (undated)

(Figure 6-3) Alternate Planting Diagram for Poorly Drained Soils. 

In this case the hole is less deep than the root mass and a drainage basin is prepared below the bottom of the root mass.


Bad Planting Techniques:

The main reason trees would be planted too deeply is that the planting hole was made too deep by mistake. This is a particularly common occurrence with holes dug by backhoes because they frequently are not too accurate. But another problem we have seen is landscape specifications that are incorrect. 

(Figure 6-4) Typical (but incorrect) Landscape Architect Specifications. 

There are several serious errors in these diagrams. 

(see text below)


Ingels, (1997)

    The holes are much deeper than the root masses, and loosened soil is shown placed under the root masses. The loosened soil will not be able to support the weight of the tree and ball, and it will settle to a point where the trunk flare is completely submerged.


    The width of the prepared holes will make it difficult to back fill them. This will allow air pockets to remain, which will either stress the new root growth for water or allow the tree to settle into the space, again making it too deep in the ground. Click here to see a possible correction for this problem.


    The mulch is shown piled onto the trunk flare and up the trunk. This will allow moisture and decay to affect normal trunk development and make the tree likely to become diseased.


    The diagram in quadrant number three shows a tree planted too deeply (it is below grade in Figure 6-5).

From: Landscaping: Principles and Practices, 5th edition, by Ingels. Copyright 1997. Reprinted with permission of Delmar Learning, a division of Thompson Learning. Fax 800-730-2215. (Figure 6-5) Another Incorrect Example Diagram.

This is a textbook example of directions for planting a tree. If you look closely, you will notice the trunk flare is shown slightly below soil grade, the hole is too deep with loose soil below the ball, and the hole is too narrow.

Another error is that the burlap has not been removed, but just folded back and down into the hole. This double or triple layer of burlap will probably dry out and cause new roots to die when they try to penetrate the layer. If roots do survive, they will be perforated by the burlap and weakened. Because these are the roots that will stabilize the tree in the ground, the wound will make the tree more likely to fail in windstorms.

(Figure 6-6) Another Incorrect Example Diagram.

Now you try. 

How many errors in this diagram can you spot? Click here for answer.


From Landscape Design: A Practical Approach. (Hannebaum, 2002) Used with permission.

Purpose    Right Tree / Right Place    Selecting Trees    Transplanting Trees    Mulching & Staking    Summary Diagram     Pruning Trees    Topping Hurts!      Protecting Trees     Tree Root Myths     Pine Bark Beetles     Live Christmas Trees     Glossary     List of Figures    List of Video Vignettes    Related Links     Bibliography is maintained by: Douglas Airhart, Ph.D. Certified Arborist & Jeff Plant, Ph.D, Last Updated on: 07/11/03