Dig your planting hole much wider than the root ball with sloping sides; a hole at least three times the root ball width is best (see diagram). The hole should be just deep enough so the bottom of the root ball will be placed on undisturbed soil and the root collar will be at or above the level of the surrounding soil. The root collar is a flared or swollen area on the trunk where the root system and trunk meet and where the soil contacted the trunk in the nursery. Loosening the soil in the bottom of the hole has been recommended in the past but this lets the heavy root ball settle and sink, causing the tree to be too deep. A small indentation can be made in the bottom of the hole to stabilize large root balls. If the sides of the hole become glazed during digging, open up the soil's pores and cracks with the tip of a spade or a trowel to increase root penetration.
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