Tree Planting Guide - Planting Tips

Before Planting

Before planting your properly selected tree, take the time to choose the planting site as carefully as you chose the tree. Remember to always plant the “Right Tree in the Right Place” for the best chance of success.

Before you dig, call Underground Service Alert (USA) at 1-800-227-2600. With just one call, you can have your underground cable, water and energy lines marked out for free. Failing to do this could result in serious injury or death.

Don't plant shrubs directly in front of pad-mounted (box) transformers. Allow room for doors to swing open when shrubs are fully grown. The law requires that 8 feet in front of and 2 feet on the other three sides of the transformer must be clear. Also, don’t allow vines to grow onto transformers. Maintain the grade (or slope) of the soil around the transformer so water will drain away from it.

Again, contact your city arborist, parks department, or public works department to find out whether your city has guidelines for planting trees, and whether a permit is required for planting trees in parkways or public areas

Planting Tips

Correct any soil drainage problems before planting.

Dig the hole as deep, and two to three times as wide as the tree's root ball. Pile soil (and remove large rocks / debris) for use as backfill. Cut away planting container or box from around root ball, never “pull” trees from them by their trunk.

Plant the tree at the same depth it was grown in the nursery. Don't bury the portion of the trunk that meets the soil. Cut and remove any string, burlap, or wire from at least the top half of the root ball.

Don't add soil amendments to the backfill. To capture water, build a berm around the outer edge of the planting hole using the extra soil.

Water the tree thoroughly at planting. Repeat every 7 to 10 days during dry periods for at least the first year. Don’t fertilize at planting time, the nursery has provided plenty within the soil. In fact, it’s best not to fertilize for one year to encourage roots to grow into the soil.

Not all newly-planted trees require staking. If you choose to stake your tree, insert the stakes into soil outside the root ball. The ties should hold the trunk upright, but still allow it to move. If using only 1 stake, position it on the prevailing wind side for tree support. You can remove the stakes as early as 90 days, but no later than one year after planting.

Mulching the soil's surface to a maximum depth of 2-3 inches is good, but do not put mulch against the trunk. Use an organic mulch (wood chips, bark, pine needles, etc.), avoid landscape pebbles and “designer” mulches that don’t provide any nutrient value.

Planting for the Future

Planting “Right Tree in the Right Place” will enhance your property value and lower the cost to maintain it. Good landscaping frames your home and uses plants compatible with overhead and underground utility lines. Low-growing trees will not reach electric lines and that will help prevent power interruptions to you and your neighbors.

Planting tall-growing trees within the SDG&E right-of-way will require trees to be pruned to maintain proper clearance from electric wires. This could result in the tree having an unnatural appearance. Use this planting guide and the diagram below to help you plant the “Right Tree in the Right Place”.

Trees Can Help to Save Energy

Plant leaf-dropping (deciduous) trees on the south and/or west side of the house to cool in the summer and allow sun to enter the house in winter.