Tree selection and planting


Selecting the right tree for your space is important. Trees can prosper for a lifetime under the right conditions. Choose a tree that will meet your needs and one that can thrive in your space. 

Use our TreeHarmony tool to select the proper tree for your property. After you know what options are appropriate, go on a “date” to meet the trees in person. You can find a mature example of most species included in the TreeHarmony quiz as part of Go See Trees.  


Now you know what you want to plant, start your tree’s life off right by planting it properly. Techniques will vary slightly depending on the size of tree you are planting.  


Whips look like a twig with roots. These are what the city plants through Reforest the Bluegrass and what we give out for Reforest at Home. When planting a whip, be gentle so you do not harm the sapling. Make sure that the entire root system is in the ground, but not the stem. The hole should be deep enough for the roots to fit and point downward. Don’t shove them into the hole, creating a J-shape. Once the whip is secured in place, water the area and add a small amount mulch to protect your young tree and promote growth. 

Pots (Containers)

Slightly more mature saplings are sometimes sold in pots. When planting a potted tree, dig a hole three to four times the size of the pot. The hole should have sloping sides, like a bowl. Cut the pot off before placing it into the soil. Plant the tree Once your tree is tucked in place, water the area and add mulch to promote growth. 

Detailed instructions on planting potted (containerized) trees can be found on the Arbor Day Foundation website. Or, you can watch this instructional video.  

Balled and burlap

Burlap bags are a great way to transfer a tree that already has an established root ball. When planting a tree from a burlap sack, always carry the tree from the bottom, not the stem. Dig the hole 2 – 3 times wider than the ball. The hole should have sloping sides, like a bowl. Cut off the wire, rope, twine, burlap, and any other packing materials once the tree is positioned. When the tree is tucked in place, water the area and add mulch to promote growth. 

Detailed instructions on planting balled and burlap trees can be found on the Arbor Day website

Planting manual