Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and slightly shallower than the root ball. (The root ball is comprised of all the roots contained in a pot. The top of the root ball begins where the roots start to emerge from the trunk.)
If your planting hole has slick sides, roughen the sides and bottom with a pick or shovel. This makes it easier for root tips to penetrate into the native soil.
Be gentle but firm when removing the container from your tree. Making sure to protect the foliage, lay the tree on its side with the container end near the planting hole. Hit the bottom and sides of the container until the root ball is loosened. Slide the pot off the root ball and gently lower the tree into the hole.
Check the root ball for circling roots. If circling roots are left in place near the trunk, they will cut into the trunk as the trunk's girth expands. Gently uncurl and straighten the roots so that they are going outward from the trunk. If a circling root is too stiff to move, you may need to cut it off, but be careful not to cut off too much of the root ball. If cutting circling roots will account for too much of the root ball, wait a year so that more roots will have grown. Do this quickly and shade the tree roots from the sun, so they don’t dry out and die.
If soil covers the base of the trunk, it will lead to rot. Aim to have the top of the root ball about 1/2 to 1 inch above the surrounding soil surface, making sure not to cover it with soil unless roots are exposed. Adjust the hole depth by lifting the tree out of the hole (lift it by the root ball, not by the trunk) and adjusting the soil level in the planting hole.
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