Tree & Shrub
Planting Guidelines

Instructions for Planting from Root Control & Root Maker Bags

  • Remove the root control or root maker bag before planting the tree.
  • Cut the fabric from top to bottom and peel it away.
  • Occasional roots may catch in the fabric – cut with hand pruners.
  • Do not jerk the fabric away from the root ball.


Dig shallow planting holes two to three times as wide as the root ball. Wide, shallow holes encourage horizontal root growth that trees and shrubs naturally produce. In well-drained soil, dig holes no deeper than the root flare. In poorly-drained clay soil, dig holes one to two inches shallower. Trunk crown or root flare should not be below grade.

Don’t dig holes deeper than root flare or put loose soil beneath roots because loose soil will settle over time, leaving trees and shrubs planted too deep. Widen holes near the soil surface where most root growth occurs. Score walls of machine-dug (auger, backhoe) holes to remove glazing.

Backfill holes with existing unamended soil. Do not incorporate organic matter into backfill for individual planting holes. This can cause problems with water movement and root growth between the root ball, planting hole, and surrounding soil. Backfill the soil, then water thoroughly to settle out air pockets. Then water again. Cover any exposed root ball tops with mulch, but keep the mulch 2″ away from the root flare.