Your doorbell rang five minutes ago. Now the delivery men are gone, leaving in their wake your new peach tree! But wait a minute. Where is the canvas around the roots? Where is the dirt? That’s right, you have a bare root tree to plant, and this can be a tricky prospect. So what do you do? Read on and all will be made clear.
First, make sure you get a good tree with good roots. Good roots are not brittle, are moist, and will have small, hairy bits growing off of the bigger roots. Certify that the seller is going to keep the roots nice and moist during delivery of the tree.
Second, understand that you need to get that tree in the ground fast. Without the dirt and its nutrients and moisture, those roots are being exposed to all of the elements and they will start dying fast. So, while you are digging and preparing the hole, be sure to keep the roots moist and in the shade.
The hole comes next. This is where your artistic nature comes into play and memories of building sandcastles will flood your mind. So think about depth first. The hole should be deep to the point that when the tree is placed in it, the crown, which is where the roots all exit from the trunk, is a couple inches above ground. Why? Because the tree is going to settle naturally and you don’t want the trunk flare to go too deeply underground. What is the trunk flare? The spot right above the crown.
Next you need to help those roots start out right. So since you are planting a bare-root tree, you need to give those roots support. Which means you need to build a mound of dirt in the center of the hole. When you place your tree in the hole, the roots need to be gently spread all around this mound. Thus, the mound you build will be inside the root system. The mound should be nice and packed so that the tree will be held firmly, but it does not need to be rock hard. Some settling is allowable.
Now that you have finished the hole, get that tree in there! As you replace the soil, you can add some nice fertilizer to help the roots find their way into a firm home. A good fertilizer is Mycorrhizal Fungi (TreeHelp.com). Then, with the dirt all replaced, tamp it down tight and water. The next day, tamp it down again to make sure your tree is not going to fall down. Make sure that water is not going to pool very deeply in the area around the base of the tree, as that will sometimes cause the tree to weaken and fall.
Finally, keep an eye on the tree and be confident that nature will take its course and your tree will flourish. If you have questions, call your local extension office or hit the Internet. Sites like TreeHelp.com abound and can be sources of great information.