Fill the hole with the original native soil - this is the soil the tree must ultimately move its roots into to survive. Large rocks can be removed when backfilling. Up to 25% by volume of composted organic matter can be mixed in with the backfill soil if it has a very high clay content and is difficult to work, but in such cases till the soil just outside the root ball 8 to 12 inches deep and several feet wide after planting to ensure good root growth. Otherwise use no other soil amendments. Polyacrylamide gels (water absorbing polymers) added to the backfill at planting time have been shown to have no significant effect on tree survival or growth.
The planting hole should be shallow and wide to allow for rapid root growth after planting. Planting trees too deep is a common problem.
Break up large clods as you backfill and pack the soil occasionally to remove air pockets. Pack the soil with your hand or lightly with your foot to avoid over-
compaction. Straighten the tree and keep its root collar at the right level as you backfill. Add and pack the soil until it is even with the surrounding soil level and the root collar. If you are purposely planting the tree shallow, mound the soil up to the root collar (bare-root) or to cover the sides of the root ball. No roots should be exposed when backfilling is complete and no soil should be put on top of existing root balls. Water well immediately after backfilling to help settle the soil and remove air pockets. Place additional soil where settling occurs, but no packing should be done after the soil is wet.
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