The social, environmental, and economic benefits of planting a tree are many. But while planting a tree might sound easy, it needs to be done correctly – and to plant the correct tree – for it to thrive. For the best results, you should:

Evaluate the Site: You can’t just select any tree and think that it will flourish.  After all, environmental conditions can vary widely in urban and suburban landscapes and you’ll want the type of tree that will do the best in the type of location. Points to consider include:


  • Sunlight exposure (hours of direct sunlight and reflected light)
  • Proximity to buildings, structures, signs, and any overhead wires
  • Soil pH, texture, structure, and compaction
  • Drainage
  • Root space restrictions

Consider Your Timing: Dormant trees are more likely to survive when transplanted as well as require less aftercare. Spring and fall are best, with the advantage of moderate temperatures and plentiful rainfall.


Selected an Appropriate, High-Quality Tree: First, it is important to purchase your tree from a reputable source. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is also important that you choose a tree suited to our Chicago area weather and your individual landscape conditions. The Morton Arboretum offers an easy-to-use tool to help you pick the right tree.

Pay Attention to the Details at Planting. You need to ensure proper:


  • Planting depth
  • Root width, correctly managing root transplant
  • Backfilling planting hole
  • Trunk protection
  • Staking
  • Watering
  • Mulching
  • Pruning

One more thing: Do not fertilize a new planted tree (who knew!)


Once you plant your tree, you need to maintain it. While trees need maintenance throughout their lives, it is particularly important for newly transplanted trees. During the period when the tree is getting established in its new home, you must ensure proper


    • Watering – the single most important aspect of maintenance of transplanted trees
    • Mulching
    • Pruning


And, as mentioned earlier, fertilizing should be delayed until a season or two after the tree was planted.

Questions about planting or maintaining your tree? The Plant Clinic at the Morton Arboretum might be able to help.

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