Caring for and Planting a Balled in Burlap

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					             Caring for and Planting a Balled in Burlap
                          Christmas Tree

This the season when lots of people drag a real tree into their house and decorate it. Some
people buy live trees that are balled in burlap instead of a cut tree. A live tree is a great idea,
but many people make serious mistakes when it comes to handling a live tree, and they end
up losing their money. The information in this article also pertains to any live tree you are
planting, be it now during the winter, or during the summer.

1. Before you even take the tree in the house, dig a hole for the tree where you expect to plant
it after the holidays. Put the soil in a wheelbarrow and park it in the garage. You'll need loose
soil to backfill the hole, and the ground might be frozen after the holidays.

2. Keep your live tree in the house for as short a time as is possible.

3. Keep the ball plenty moist while in the house, but not in a tub full of water. You don't want
the ball to dry out completely, but by the same token it shouldn't be soggy all the time either.
Just moist. You can wet it thoroughly, but then don't water again until the water is almost

4. After Christmas move the tree outdoors as soon as possible and plant it immediately. If you
were not able to dig the hole earlier, the ground is frozen, and the tree can not be planted,
leave it outside and pack bags of leaves or bales of straw around the ball. Find a way to heel
it in in such a way that the amount of sun and wind the root ball receives is minimal.

5. Try and plant the tree immediately if you can. You do not want to store the tree on top of
the ground during the winter if you can avoid it. Putting it in your garage is not a good idea
either, it is likely to dry out in there. The absolute best place for the ball is in the ground, even
if the ground has frozen after you dug the hole. Just set the tree in the hole and backfill with
loose soil. Make sure there are no air pockets around the ball. Backfill only with small
particles of soil. If this can not be done because the soil is frozen, just set the tree in the hole
and backfill as soon as the weather permits.

6. Check the ball for nylon string. Cut and remove any nylon string. Sometimes the diggers
wrap the string around the stem of the tree. If the string is a cotton type, like sisal twine, you
can leave it on the ball but remove it from the stem. If the burlap is nylon it should be cut in
many places or removed. If the ball is wrapped with a wire basket I recommend leaving it on.
It will help to secure the tree and keep it from rocking back and forth with the wind. The
roots will find their way through the wire and the burlap. Just cut the burlap where you can.

7. Do not plant the tree too deep. This is the number one reason for plants that do not survive.
They should not be planted any deeper than they were in the nursery. The top of the ball
should be one to two inches above the ground level. If you have heavy, wet, clay soil, you
should plant it even higher and build a bed up around the ball. When you plant them too deep
the plants literally suffocate.
8. Do not fertilize the tree at the time of planting. You can fertilize it in the spring, but only
with an organic fertilizer. If you have compost available, mix some in while planting.
Fertilizer can do more harm than it can good. I always recommend organic fertilizers. It's
hard to make a mistake with organics. It's always a good idea to stake trees when you plant
them. If the wind is constantly rocking them back and forth they will have a difficult time
establishing new roots in their new home.

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