Learn to plant and maintain strong, healthy trees that will thrive for generations.

How to Plant

It takes three years for a young tree to establish a solid root system and strong trunk. By following these planting instructions for your 5 gallon tree, it will get the best start for a long and healthy life. 

Planting Your Young Tree

  • Remove and discard grass and weeds in a 4-foot-wide circle.
  • Dig your hole 4 feet wide and 8 to 10 inches deep. Score the sides of the hole so the hole is not smooth.
  • Remove the entire root ball from the container. Thoroughly loosen and extend side and bottom roots from the root ball. Cut any roots circling the root ball with a sharp tool.
  • Place the root ball in the hole so the root crown (where to trunk meets the roots) is about 1.5 to 2 inches above the surrounding ground level.
  • Place the existing soil back in the hole. Do not place grass or weeds in the hole. When backfilling the hole, avoid air pockets by lightly tamping, but don't compact the soil. Refill the hole only up to the top of the root ball.
  • Water your newly planted tree deeply after planting.

Read the transcript here

For staking information...


The key to growing healthy and beautiful trees is directly related to the amount of care your newly-planted trees receive. Although caring for your trees does require scheduled attention by you, it is not difficult or demanding work. Please take care of your trees so that they may provide years of shade and beauty. Learn more about watering and mulching.

Tree Survival Tips


Check soil moisture for newly planted trees. Do not be fooled by surface soil conditions: check the soil 4 to 6 inches deep. The soil should be moist, not soggy.


If you carefully followed our planting instructions, your tree's root crown (where trunk meets the roots) should be 1.5 inches to 2 inches above ground level. Trees can sometimes sink after a good rain or overwatering, be sure to watch to make sure your tree's root crown does not sink below ground level where it can suffocate.

If the tree has sunk into the ground, lift the tree out of the soil and replant it above ground level.


Be sure that you have properly staked the tree to allow for slight movement of the trunk to encourage strong and straight growth. Learn more about staking

Free Shade Trees available through our Sacramento Shade Program


Print this guide and have it with you on planting day.