How to Plant Bare Root Trees

This is the type of auger I use to quickly plant bare root trees

Planting Auger

Longer reach 32″ auger

Bully Tools T Handle Dibble Planter – This type of planter is better for rocky and clay type soils. Used extensively with US Forest Service planting. Also, manual power so that’s better for off grid.

The “Planting Auger” linked above is the type of tool I’ve used thousands of times in the last decade I’ve been planting bare root trees. It’s very simple to use and quick too. Works in all kinds of soil types however if you have heavy clay soil, you may want to dig several holes in close spacing, and then use a narrow shovel to open the space a little bit more to loosen the ground before planting. Or use a Dibble Planter Bar.

1. Get Plants – Remove your trees from the packaging or soil they are stored in.

2. Hydrate Roots – Put all the trees in a bucket of water that completely covers the roots, up to the stem or trunk of the plant. This is to keep them hydrated while digging and planting.

3. Drill Holes – Select your planting locations and either use a cordless or corded drill to drill holes with the auger. If you have access to a power cord and a heavy duty drill, I suggest that over a cordless battery powered drill. However I have used my cordless drill for a few thousand trees and it’s still running strong. You can find the same drill I use by clicking this link to purchase on Amazon It’s a Dewalt 20vMax Brushless drill and I love it.

4. Inoculate – Simply remove the bare root tree from the bucket of water and (optional but recommended) is to sprinkle some Mycorrhizal Inoculant onto the tree roots. I use an old spice bottle to sprinkle it on lightly before placing the roots into the hole. I love this stuff and it works fantastically. Here’s a link to a smaller two pack that should take care of planting a hundred trees or so. They also have a larger bag if you want to use it on all of your transplants like I do.

5. Plant in Hole – Once the tree is in the hole with inoculant on the roots, make sure to orient plant correctly and do not plant too deep! Fill in the hole with the soil you took out of the hole by kicking it in, then fill with water to hopefully make a muddy mess that gets out all the air pockets, keep filling with soil to make a mud slurry until it’s all full and mud is coming out the top.

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This is how deep to plant a bare root plant.

6. Firm in & Check Depth – Step on the edge of the hole to compress it down and sideways towards the tree to firmly hold it in place. Check to make sure you didn’t bury too deep or not deep enough. If you have exposed roots, that’s not a huge problem unless they’re exposed from the side of the plant indicating the root crown is too high in the air. Keep it in the green zone. You can always fill mulch in around the plant if you planted too shallow, that’s easy to fix, planting too deep will sometimes kill the plant or reduce it’s lifespan.

7. Repeat Until Finished – Now you’re done!

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