web graphic
Seattle reLeaf
Seattle reLeaf Home PageBenefitsGet InvolvedPlanting and CareRestorationManagement PlanRegulations
Tree Selection
Street Trees
Utilities & Trees
Young Tree Care
Mature Tree Care

Tree Planting

There's more than meets the eye when it comes to tree planting and care. The first step to a strong, healthy, mature tree that adds beauty and grace to your home and neighborhood is proper planting. Below are 7 easy steps you can follow to make sure your tree gets the right start in life. Follow the links on the left for more information on selecting the right tree, caring for your tree, street trees, and more.

Plant in Fall! Seattle's dry, hot summers are very hard on young trees. Give your tree a great start by planting it in fall and letting it benefit from our fall and winter rains.

Planting a street tree? Click here.

How to Plant a Tree

tree planting

Planting trees improves your home, neighborhood, and community.

  • Examine the roots. Roots that are circling should be redirected to grow out into the soil. If this is not possible, it is better to cut a root than to allow it to continue growing in a circular fashion. Circling roots will stunt the growth of the tree and can eventually lead to the tree’s death.
  • Dig the hole only as deep as the root ball but 2-3 times wider.
  • Expose the root flare. The root flare is the area where the first major roots extend out from the trunk. Make sure the root flare is at least 1 inch higher than the finished soil height. If you are planting a container tree, the root flare may be buried in the pot – dig back the soil to expose it.
  • Fill the planting hole with native soil. Do not add soil amendments like compost or fertilizer.
  • Mulch. Add a 2-4 inch thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree, but do not let the mulch touch the trunk. Mulch against the trunk will lead to decay. Mulch is a great way to keep weeds and grass away from the trunk, maintain soil moisture and provide nutrients to the tree.
  • Stake only if necessary. Stakes can rub and cause damage to the bark and branches. Stake only if the tree cannot remain straight without support. Remove stakes after one year.
  • Water. Give the tree a good drink of water to help it overcome the stress of planting.


Check out this tree planting and care video for more information:


Further Resources

Looking for help planting trees in your yard? Try the Trees for Neighborhoods program.

New tree planting information and diagram

More tree planting tips

Selecting and Planting Trees

Translated Planting and Care Brochures

Amharic Oromo
Cambodian Somali
Chinese Spanish
English Tagalog
Korean Tigrigna
Laotian Vietnamese


reLeaf Home | Benefits | Get Involved | Planting & Care | Restoration | Management Plan | Regulations