Tree Planting

What is the proper way to plant a tree?
  • Place the tree in the prepared hole and ensure the tree is straight from all sides.Remember to remove all burlap, twine and the wire basket (if present) from the tree before planting.
  • Gently backfill the hole while keeping the tree level. Pack soil firmly to eliminate air pockets which can dry out roots. If the tree is in an area where wind is a concern, staking may be necessary.
  • Provide a 2"-4" layer of mulch around the base of the tree, taking care to avoid packing mulch against the trunk.
  • Water the tree at least weekly - more frequently in extremely hot temperatures.
  • Watch the tree for signs of distress; if the tree exhibits signs of distress, contact your retailer or a certified aborist.
  • For additional information on proper tree planting techniques, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry.


How do I choose the right tree species for the right location?

Certain tree species are more tolerant and adaptable than others, but planting a tree in the proper location helps promote tree health and longevity. Many trees can tolerate of harsh conditions that make them tolerant to the urban environment. For an extensive list of common native and ornamental trees and their specific environmental requirements and tolerances, see the Public Facilities Manual Table 12.19. You may also wish to visit the Virginia Department of Forestry.

When buying new trees, how can I be sure I'm buying high-quality, healthy, young trees?

When buying a high-quality tree, look for sturdy trees with strong branches, uniform shape and a root ball without torn roots. Avoid trees with obvious wounds and that have been improperly pruned. Branches should be evenly spaced and be solidly attached to the trunk. For best results, choose a nursery with a solid reputation and one which offers a guarantee of the tree after planting.

More Questions?

Please contact the Fairfax County Urban Forest Management Division at 703-324-1770, TTY 711, or by email.

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