UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail: edayen@ufl.edu 

September 19, 2006

Feature Article - for immediate release.

Ed Ayen , Florida Yards & Neighborhood

 Proper Tree Planting

Trees are probably the most permanent addition to a “Florida Friendly Landscape” so site selection and proper planting techniques are essential.  Pick the site of your tree carefully; make sure that when it grows taller it will not interfere with other trees, power and telephone lines and buildings.  Tree roots extend far out from the trunk, usually well beyond the drip line so keep away from driveways, sidewalks, foundations and drain fields. 

Dig a hole as wide as the root ball and an inch or two shallower than the depth of the root ball.  To determine proper depth of the root ball find the point where the topmost root emerges from the trunk.  Remove enough dirt from the top of the root ball so the top most root is within the top two inches of soil. 

Slide the root ball out of the container or if wrapped with material remove any string, rope, synthetic burlap, strapping, plastic or other material that will not decompose in the soil.  If the root ball has circling small roots make four vertical slices on each side of the ball about one inch deep; this will encourage these root to grow outward.  Do not cut large roots, as the tree may go into shock and die. 

Slide the tree into the hole making sure the top of the root ball is one to two inches above the soil surface and is standing straight in the hole.  If the root ball is too deep establishment of the tree is delayed while the roots grow up toward the soil surface. Take your shovel and loosen the soil out from the root ball to the same width as the ball.  This will insure the roots have loose soil to expand into.  Then add ten to twenty gallons of water to settle the soil and thoroughly water the ball and surrounding area.  Apply mulch to a minimum eight foot diameter circle around the tree.  Do not apply mulch over the root ball area as that may prevent water from penetrating. 

Staking the tree is recommended to hold the root ball firmly in the soil and keep the tree upright.  If the root ball shifts for some reason new roots could break causing a set back in growth of the tree.  Use flexible ties and remove once the tree is established as they could girdle the tree. 

Irrigating recently installed trees is essential.  To establish a tree in sandy, well drained soil about three gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter is needed almost daily in the first several months.  Be careful not to over water if your soil is not well drained.  Cut back on the amount of water applied but not the frequency. 

For more information on planting trees contact your local extension service office.  If you are interested in having a Florida Friendly Yard please contact Ed Ayen at the Highlands County Extension Service office. Phone: (863) 402-6540 or email: edayen@ufl.edu . His office location is 4509 George Blvd. in  Sebring, FL 33875-5837.

The Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program is being implemented through your local county extension service in Highlands, Okeechobee and Glades County and is partially funded from Clean Water Act Section 319 funding from the U. S. EPA through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. 

More information is available on  the Okeechobee web page,  http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.  If you need additional information on Florida Friendly Yards, please email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit our Okeechobee County Master Gardeners from 1 to 5 PM on Tuesday afternoons.  


Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida.  Larry A.  Arrington, Dean Last update: 09/18/2006 .  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert 


Ingram, D. L.  Black,  R. J. and Gilman, E. F.   Selecting and Planting Trees and Shrubs (Circular 858). Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, 10/03. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG077 

Knox, Gary,  et al.  Yard Certification Checklist.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, (1995). http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/certification.pdf 

Lofland, Billie,  et al.  Florida Yardstick Workbook. Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, (1999). http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/Florida-Yardstick-Workbook.htm