Share this page Print

Planting trees and shrubs

Trees in Calgary enhance both the environmental health and the aesthetic appeal of our City. If you're considering adding a tree or shrub to your yard or garden, view the video or tips and be sure to follow them up with proper tree maintenance.

How to plant a tree or shrub in Calgary

Prior to planting a new tree, be sure you have had all underground utilities located, and always remember to call or click before you dig. Next, follow these steps to be ensure a successful planting.

  1. The planting hole should be wide and shallow. The hole should be up to three times the diameter of the root ball, but no deeper than the root ball itself. Newly planted tree roots need to push through surrounding soil. Ideally, break up the soil in a large area around the tree, especially in a new development. Typically, existing soils have become compacted and unsuitable for healthy root growth.
  2. Note the trunk flare, or where the roots spread at the base of the tree or shrub. This area of the plant should be partially visible following planting. This will also determine how deep your hole needs to be.
  3. Place the tree at the proper height. The majority of roots will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. At this depth the roots receive maximum amounts of oxygen. Plant the tree a little high (2 to 3 inches) as opposed to low to allow for settling. Always lift or support the tree by the root ball and not the trunk during planting.
  4. Ensure that the tree is straight before you backfill the hole. View the tree's position from several angles. Use a good planting mix or loam, and gently but firmly fill the hole to about 1/3 full and pack the soil around the root ball. If the tree is balled and burlapped, then cut and remove the string or wire from around the trunk and top 1/3 of the root ball.
  5. Fill the remainder of the hole ensuring that the soil is firmly packed to avoid the roots from drying out. Try adding the soil a few inches at a time and settle with water. Lawn care tips.
  6. If the tree is small or conditions warrant, stake the tree. Use two stakes on opposite sides of the tree and tie with wide, flexible material. The staking system can be removed after the first year of growth, so materials do not choke the tree.
  7. Place mulch around the base of the tree. Mulch will help to retain soil moisture, moderate temperature, and reduce grass and weed occurrence. Use leaf litter, pine straw, shredded bark, peat moss, or wood chips and build a two to four inch layer. Pull the mulch back from the trunk of tree to prevent potential disease problems.

Initial follow-up care

Keep the soil moist, but do not over soak. Over watering will cause leaves to turn yellow or fall off. Ensure that new trees receive water at least once a week. The newly planted tree will require more water during periods of hot weather. Dry soil under the mulch surface indicates that it is time to water. You may also wish to undertake minor pruning of branches damaged during the transplanting process. Once the tree is established, be sure to follow our tree maintenance guidelines.

Please contact Parks for more information or view ReTree Community Program page.