Planting a tree too deeply in the ground is the number two reason we see newly planted trees die (Number one is underwatering). If you can’t see where the trunk starts to flare out at the base of the tree then you are planting the tree too deep.
The first picture correctly shows the trunk flare and the largest few roots exposed above the soil level. Sometimes, it is necessary to remove dirt from the rootball to expose the root flare properly. This is the correct depth to plant a tree.
The second tree is planted too deeply. You see only straight trunk, no flare at the bottom. This tree is doomed unless it is “lifted” and planted correctly.
So why does planting too deeply kill a tree?
Tree roots require oxygen and when covered with too much dirt the surface roots suffocate.
We suggest digging your hole no deeper than the bottom of the rootball to the trunk flare. Make sure the flare of the tree is at or slightly above the soil line. You should dig the hole wider than the rootball – at least 6” wider and up to 2 times the width of the rootball.
What if my tree is planted too deeply?
Depending on the length of time it has been planted will depend on the solution.