How To Plant A Tree

The tree and shrub canopy in Blackburn Hamlet is second to none in the National Capital Region. By planting younger, hardier trees, we are ensuring this canopy can be enjoyed by generations to come.


The first step is identifying a suitable location. The type of tree should be “the right fit” with the right amount of sunlight, proper soil, available water, and space availability.

Consider the following based on what you’re planting:

  • How tall will it grow? What shape will it have? Will it fit in the space you have once it is full-grown? Would a coniferous (evergreen) or deciduous tree work better in your landscape?
  • What are you looking for? Shade, privacy, noise reduction, wind retention, prevent soil erosion?

The second step, before doing any digging, is making sure to request underground utility locates to check for buried cables and wires on your property. Call “Ontario One Call” at 1-800-400-2255 approximately 5-days before you dig.


Conifers (i.e. trees with needles) can be planted early in the spring once the soil has thawed, or in the fall, from about the first week of August to the end of October.

Deciduous trees (i.e. trees with full leaves) can be planted mid-spring, once the threat of frost is gone, or in the fall, from leaf-fall until freeze-up.


Prepare the planting spot:

  • Dig a hole two to three times wider than the container or root ball. The hole should only be as deep as the root ball. When placed in the hole, the root collar (i.e. where the roots join the main stem or trunk) should be equal to or slightly above the depth of the hole.
  • Ideally plant as soon as possible. If planting is not possible right away, store the tree in a cool, shaded area and water as needed to keep the roots and soil moist.
  • For trees in containers, gently slide the root ball out of the pot. You may have to wiggle or gently bend the container for it to come out. For burlapped trees, remove the burlap with scissors, avoiding cutting any roots.
  • Gently loosen any dense or clustered roots with your hand that may have grown tightly in the container.
  • Place the tree so that the top of the root ball is flush with the top of the hole and the tree is as vertical as possible. Fill the hole in and around the root ball with the soil removed from the hole or good quality soil.
  • Gently pack the soil around the root ball until the hole is two-thirds full to remove air pockets. Fill the remaining space with water to settle the soil and allow the hole to drain. Finish filling the hole with soil and make a ridge of soil around the root ball to direct water towards the roots.


Watering: Water immediately after planting, followed by once a week or more as needed during dry conditions to keep the soil moist. The first year is critical for watering.

Mulch: Ideally apply two to four inches of mulch around the tree over the area of the root ball to reduce the growth of weeds and retain water in the soil.

Fertilizing: Avoid applying fertilizer, except for bone meal or high phosphorus fertilizer, in the first year after planting. Use a well-balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) if soil and leaves appear to be deficient and/or two years before, or two years after any root injury but not soon after the tree is newly-planted.

Staking: Staking trees is not necessary unless they are exposed to high winds or if the soil is shallow. Remove stakes after one year.

Pruning: Trees should be pruned while dormant in late fall or early spring. Remove any dead, damaged, or rubbing branches. This will help the tree recover faster and redirect it’s energy to other areas of growth.

These are general guiding principles for tree planting and care. For more specific information, please don’t hesitate to contact the BCA Tree Team at and/or visit the Tree Team page on the BCA website at

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