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How do I plant a tree, shrub, or perennial?

Before any planting can occur, utilities should be flagged for safety. Be sure to call DIG-SAFE (in Kansas) or DIG-RITE (in Missouri) or Indiana811 (in Indiana) in advance and have all utilities marked prior to beginning planting.


  • Do not allow the root ball to dry out

  • The tree should be stored upright, not touching another tree, and watered regularly

  • Plant the right tree in the right location according to how much sun it needs or if it performs best with some protection from the wind

  • Remove container, burlap, shrink wrap, wire baskets, twine during the planting process

Transporting, Handling, & Storing The Tree:

  • Handle trees by the metal basket handles, PlantRight Package woven handles, or the container rim to prevent damage to the tree and root ball.  Do not handle tree by pulling on trunk to move/unload so root breakage is avoided.

  • Move the tree by the rootball to prevent damage to the root.

  • When handling shrubs and perennials, pick the plant up by the container not by the plant itself, which can break twigs or crush the tender new plant.

  • Tarp the trees during travel to avoid foliage and branch damage and rapid dehydration.

  • Consider using a second tarp or wetted burlap.

  • Tarp can be secured to the bed of the trailer vs. to the plant during transport.

  • Protect the trunk against rubbing on the bed of the truck or other plant material.

  • Stake upright so tree won’t fall over in wind during storage.

  • If using hydraulic jaws, do not compress the root mass.

  • When handling bare root trees, roots must be kept consistently damp. Moisten a piece of burlap and spread it over the root system

​6. Place or roll the tree into the hole.

7. Straighten and orient the tree as needed, viewing from several angles to ensure it is straight.

8. Use a shovel to slide soil from around the top of the hole into the bottom around the base of the tree until about 1/3 of the ball is covered. Firmly pack that soil at the bottom.

9. Remove top portion of the basket and burlap. Remove all the twine, too, including around the trunk.

10. Evenly mix the soil on the tarp with ½ of the PlantRight compost.

11. Backfill the remaining hole with the soil/compost mix. Do not compact this soil. Continue to the top of the root ball, gradually sloping the compost mix away from the root ball.

12. Spread the remaining half of the compost over all the planting area out to the end of the slope. Don’t compact any of the composted portion.

13. The root collar is now above grade but maybe still down in the actual root ball.

14. Except for broken branches, no pruning should occur at planting.

15. Add the Bio-Life 800+ via drench.

16. If planting in a very good and well-drained soil, planting height can be less than noted, but NEVER BELOW GRADE.


Completed tree planting project.


Ball and Burlap (B&B) Instructions:

  • Dig hole 2/3 of the depth of the rootball.

  • Remove any shrink-wrap.

  • Using rootball to roll into hole, place tree so that 1/3 of the rootball remains above grade.

  • Straighten or orient the tree as needed.

  • Remove any twine.

  • Remove the top portion of metal basket so the burlap can be easily removed.

  • Continue planting per general instructions.


How to dig the hole and plant the tree:

1. Plan to place the soil on a tarp for easy compost mixing and cleanup later.

2. Dig a hole 4-6” wider than the rootball on each side.

3. Dig the hole no deeper than is needed according to the type of rootball being planted

4. Drain the hole of any water that may have accumulated in it.

5. Remove any shrink-wrap that may be present.

PlantRight Package Instructions:

  • Dig hole ¾ of the depth of the rootball.

  • Beginning approximately 2” above the bottom seam, slice across the bottom of the PlantRight Package and approximately 2” up the other side.

  • Place tree in hole so that ¼ of the rootball remains above grade.

  • Straighten or orient the tree as needed.

  • Remove tree from the green PlantRight Package by slicing one side of the package and sliding the tree package from under the plant while in the hole.


Container Shrub & Perennial Instructions:

  • Dig hole 3/4 of the depth of the rootball.

  • Remove the plant from the plastic container by turning the container on its side and sliding it out.

  • Place plant in hole so that ¼ of the rootball remains above ground.

  • Mulch should not cover any foliage at the base of the plant.

Applying PlantRight Bio-Life 800+:

  • Apply Bio-Life 800+ with a drench method to the rootball area before mulching and staking. It is important to know that it is not possible to apply too much of the PlantRight Bio-Life 800+.

  • The proper dilution rate is 2 parts water to 1 part PlantRight Bio-Life 800+.

Planting in a raised bed:

  • For trees that are being planted in an area that has topsoil added to create a raised  bed area, plants need to be planted at grade because raised beds provide improved drainage, and improved air/water exchange in the soil.

  • Because of improved drainage, additional watering may be necessary.


Planting on a slope:

  • The uphill portion of the rootball should be planted at original grade.

  • The downhill portion of the rootball should then extend above the original grade.

  • Additional soil fill will be needed on the downhill side.

  • Take special care to ensure the tree itself is planted at the proper angle to make sure it that it grows straight.

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