Place the tree in the bottom of the hole onto undisturbed soil with its stem vertical. Handle the tree by its root ball or container to avoid trunk damage. Never drop the tree or you will loosen the root ball and break roots. Make sure that the root collar is at or above the surrounding soil grade.
Now start to remove packing materials from the root ball. Ropes and wires that surround the trunk or root collar should always be removed or they will eventually girdle the tree. Roots must quickly grow from the root ball into the surrounding native soil for the tree to survive. Though untreated burlap breaks down fairly quickly in the soil, treated burlap and some types of pots break down too slowly to assure good, quick root growth out of the root ball. Therefore, if the root ball or potted root system is strong and firm all packing materials should be removed, including pots, wire baskets, and burlap. If the root ball is broken and loose remove these materials carefully and only to the extent that you can keep the root ball together. Backfilling as you remove these materials helps keep the root ball intact. Any burlap or potting material that must be left on should be slit in several places to allow roots to grow through. It is less important but still desirable to remove packing materials left underneath the root ball. Cleanly cut any circling or damaged roots that are exposed at this point to promote good root growth.
Bare-root trees should be placed with their root collar positioned as mentioned above and with their root system spread out in the flat-bottomed hole or over a shallow mound constructed in the bottom of the hole. Do not bend or kink roots to make them fit. If roots are too long for the hole either dig the hole wider and deeper or, as a last resort, cut off some root length with sharp hand pruners. Also cleanly cut any crushed, torn, or otherwise damaged roots.
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