Have you ever wondered what the proper way to install that new tree that you just purchased? Well now you don’t have to wonder anymore. I have two answers for you to create your own technique. I have been installing trees and shrubs on a daily basis since 1998.
If you read in the official textbook, you will read that when digging the hole, you are to make the hole twice the width and depth of the pot. The reason being that you are loosening the soil and are able to amend the soil around the new plant to give the roots a soft area to stretch out.
If you talk to any landscaper or even some of the agricultural extension agents, they will tell you that it is unnecessary to dig a hole that large. One of the down falls to digging that big of a hole is you can trick the roots into thinking that they can stay in that loose soil and not penetrate the rest of the dirt. With larger trees, digging a hole that large can cause the tree not to have a stable foundation and the wind will blow it over before the roots take hold.
My personal experience has taught me that you can dig a hole large enough for the plant, and lightly amend the native soil with some organic material. Fill the hole with water and put the plant in the hole and squish the amended soil around the edges. Make sure you eliminate any air bubbles in the dirt, as an air gap can cause the roots to dry out. DO NOT plant the tree or shrub any deeper the dirt level of the root ball. Usually leaving it an inch higher is recommended.
Using a root stimulator product is like having life insurance for your plant. Mulch can be esthetically pleasing to the eye, help hold in moisture, and slow down weeds. DO NOT put the mulch around the trunk of the tree, changing the level of the dirt around the trunk. Raising the dirt level of the root ball will trick the tree and it will put out roots in places it shouldn’t, ultimately killing the tree.