University of Missouri Extension

G5008, Reviewed October 1993

How to Plant Forest Trees

John P. Slusher
School of Natural Resources
Terry Robison
Missouri Department of Conservation

When seedlings arrive, keep the seedling roots protected and moist. Begin planting as soon as possible.

To store for two weeks or less

separate the bales Figure 1

To store for more than two weeks

Trench dug in a shaded, protected area Figure 2

Never leave open bales of seedlings exposed to the sun and wind. During planting operations, take out a few bundles of trees at a time. Cover the others and keep them cool and moist until they are needed. Be careful to avoid damaging the terminal buds.


By hand

Center or side-hole methods of hand planting Figure 3

  1. Dig hole to fit root system.
  2. Set at same depth trees grew in nursery.
  3. Fill hole half full of soil and tamp well.
  4. Finish filling hole and tamp with feet.

Slit method of planting with a grubbing hoeFigure 4

Slit method of planting with a tree planting bar Figure 5

By machine

Care of plantations

Livestock damage trees of all ages, so keep livestock out of your plantations.

Protect trees from fire. Plow or disk a fire break if necessary, and maintain it during the fire season.

Prevent rank growth of weeds and grass on good soils by cultivating, using proper chemicals, disking, mowing, or hoeing as often as necessary for the first two or three years. On poor soils, a light growth of vegetation such as broomsedge or ragweed provides some protection and may be beneficial.

Inspect plantations regularly for evidence of attacks by insects or disease.

Fertilization usually is not necessary for evergreens unless serious nutrient deficiencies exist. Hardwood (deciduous) trees sometimes benefit from fertilization. Fertility needs should be determined by soil test or foliar analysis.

To avoid damaging seedling roots, do not apply fertilizers directly in the planting holes.

For further assistance in tree planting, contact your local MU Extension center or the Department of Conservation farm forester.

G5008 How to Plant Forest Trees | University of Missouri Extension

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