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How to Plant Fruit Trees in Your Backyard

  1. Dig a hole at least wide enough for the roots of your tree so that none of them are bent. Make it deep enough for the tree's roots to be completely covered. A wider hole is better, if possible, since that will make it easier for the tree to grow.
  2. Chip away at the sides of your hole to break any compacted soil - this will make it easier for your tree's roots to grow beyond the initial hole.
  3. Most bare root trees from Bay Laurel Nursery do not need to be staked. But if yours does, use at least a five or six foot garden stake hammered about two feet into the bottom of the hole a little off center on the southern side, if possible.
  4. Make a mound of soil a few inches high in the bottom of the hole with what you dug out. Pat the soil down.
  5. Carefully place your fruit tree into the hole, centered on the mound and spreading its roots. The tree has a graft union (sometimes called a bud union) visible where the root stock is grafted to the trunk. This should be placed slightly above the existing ground level. It is better to plant a little high than low since trees often settle.
  6. Amending the soil with nutrients may be necessary.  However, it is better not to overdo it since doing so will create an artificial environment for the tree that in the long run will stunt growth. Check with your local garden center and buy whatever amendment is recommended for your soil. DO NOT USE REDWOOD COMPOST OR MANURE AS THEY MAY CAUSE BURNING. Many garden centers now promote organic gardening, so  it should be easy to find one in your area that can help you to produce fruit that is grown without harmful chemicals.
  7. Start filling in the excavated soil that you have amended into the hole, carefully covering over just the roots. Gently pat down the soil a little and then water to help the soil settle around the roots.
  8. Continue adding layers of soil, repeating the process of patting it down slightly and watering to help the soil settle and fill in any air holes. Fill in up to the original ground level.
  9. Use any leftover soil to build a raised circle around the tree to keep water in. Ideally, the circle should be about four feet in diameter. Placing organic material such as leaves, mulch or bark inside the circle can help protect the tree's roots and help with water retention.  Make sure that you keep any mulch away from the trunk of the tree.
  10. Overwatering before leafing out is the biggest cause of tree failure!  While the trees are dormant, they are using no water, so it is very important to not water them any more than is absolutely necessary to prevent the roots from drying out.