Tree Planting – Field Exercise

Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education
(SARE) Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook


Tom and Maud Powell and Michael Moss, Sustainable Farmers, Jackson County, OR.
Technical advisor: Tim Franklin, Jacksonville, OR.
Curriculum advisor: Peter O’Connell, Jacksonville, OR.
Web advisor: National Center for Appropriate Technology, Butte, MT.

Published 2007
Updated 2010


Tree Planting – Field Exercise


  • Consider goals of tree planting – reforestation, food crop, windbreak, shade, etc.
  • Consider environmental factors – soil, climate, aspect, etc.
  • Consider the needs and optimal conditions for the trees to be planted.



  • Bare Root Trees
    • Dig hole – should be deeper and wider than roots
    • Trim off any broken roots
    • Place roots in hole. Ensure that tree is straight. Slowly fill the hole and gently tamp the soil in around the roots.
    • Depth of planting depends. Generally, in climates with a long wet season, the tree should be planted high – not in a basin – to ensure that the roots do not drown. A basin around the tree is helpful to capture and concentrate rainfall around the root zone, if the rain comes gradually over the course of the year.
  • Potted Trees
    • Dig hole – slightly bigger than the pot
    • Remove tree from pot, and massage the potting soil so as to break compaction and offset any root binding.
    • Place tree and soil into hole, slowly backfill with native soil around the potting soil, gently tamp.
    • Depth depends – see above



  • Discuss need for irrigation based on site specifics
    • Pros – smothers weeds, conserves water, attracts earthworms.
    • Cons – attracts mice, moles, and gophers.
  • Demonstrate using straw or cardboard, or both



  • Discuss pros and cons.
  • Demonstrate proper installation of drip irrigation


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