What is the correct planting depth for trees?
It is widely recognised that planting trees too deep is a major cause for premature decline.
Tree roots need both oxygen and water so inevitably they grow within the top metre of the soil. We tell customers to plant our container trees an inch proud of the soil line to allow it to settle back into the freshly dug hole. Better to plant too proud than too deep.
Root balled trees are a real challenge. Cultivation and root balling in the field heave soil up the stem so that they sit several inches too deep to start with. Nurseries who containerise root balled trees pile compost on top of them and then landscapers use root anchors to stabilize them at planting. I reckon most root balled trees are planted at least 5 inches too deep and this is the major reason for failure further on down the line.
When we lift our trees from the field and containerise them, the top of the first root is no more than a centimetre under the compost level and for customers who specify, we then paint a line at the point the root flare leaves the compost. For the customer, if they can’t see this paint line after planting, they know it is planted too deep!
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