Tree Selection

Visit the University of Connecticut Plant Selector Database

Trees for Planting near Powerlines:
The storms of 2011 showed how damaging trees can be when the fall into roadways and into powerlines and other utility infrastructure.  New trees to be planted near to powerlines should be trees with a mature height that will keep them below the powerlines.  The CT Agricultural Experiment Station and Connecticut College have developed a list of recommended trees for planting near to (not under) powerlines: Trees for Planting Near Powerlines.

Points to Consider When Selecting a Tree:
• Trees should be those that are adapted to the local climatic zone (use USDA Plant Hardiness Zones), soil and moisture conditions.

• Assessments should also be made as to degree of exposure to the sun, and whether this condition is likely to change over the life of the tree.

• The ultimate size of the tree is also a key consideration. Do not plant a tree that will outgrow the available space!

• Available soil volume for root space is also important.

Guidelines for Accepting Plant Material:
• Freshly dug material is preferred over material that has been held in storage.

• Stored plants may be rejected for excessive growth or dieback in storage.

• During transport, branches should be tied with rope or twine only. Plants may be rejected for damage to branches during transport.

• During transport, plants shall be protected from excessive drying. Usually, trees and shrubs will be tarped to protect them from excessive sun and wind.

• Roots and root balls should also be protected from drying and breakage during transport, and will be rejected if so damaged.

• Bare root stock will have their roots covered with wet soil, sawdust, wood chips, moss, peat, straw, hay, or other acceptable moisture-holding material during shipping and storage. Bare root stock not so protected will be rejected.

• When in storage, plants shall be protected from sun and wind damage, by being kept in the shade, with roots covered and well watered.

• During transport, proper means of lifting plants shall be used. Container and balled-&-burlapped plants shall not be lifted by the trunk.

Delivery to the site should be planned so that plants do not remain unplanted for more than three days after

Tree Planting

Planting Tools

  • Large Spades or Shovels
  • Large Tarp to Hold Soil
  • Heavy Duty Wire Clippers
  • Clippers or Small Pruning Saw
  • Hammer or Mallet
  • Measuring Stick
  • Pruning Shears
  • Heavy Duty Scissors
  • Gloves
  • Stakes and Strapping

Preparing the Site

  • For B&B and container trees, measure the height and diameter of the rootball
  • Dig to the depth of the trunk flare. Leave the bottom of the hole firm.
  • Dig the space at least 3 times the diameter of the rootball.
  • For bare root plants, dig below the depth of the roots, and create a hill of loose soil on which the roots can be placed so that the trunk flare sits at the top of the soil level. Dig a hole at least three times the spread of the roots.
  • Break up compacted soil. Sides of planting space should not be packed.
  • Do not amend soil unless planting in building rubble, poor soils or severely disturbed soils.


• For B&B and container trees, lift into the planting space by rootball – never lift by the trunk.
• Balance tree upright in center of planting space.
• For trees in wire baskets, cut and remove wire from sides of rootball.
• Cut away strings and burlap or plastic, exposing rootball.
• Do not disturb soil in the rootball.
• If tree is container grown, cut and remove container.
• Container trees should have the sides and bottom of the root ball slashed.
• Bare root trees should have their roots straightened and spread so that they run away from the tree.
• In all types of planting – Prune dead or crushed roots. Straighten or cut circling roots. Make clean cuts.
• Begin refilling with soil, watering as you fill. Gently tamp.
• Never plant too deep. Fill soil up to tree base just above where roots begin to branch.
• Prune only dead or injured branches. Do not paint wounds.
• Remove tree wrap, tape or string on trunk. Trunks should only be wrapped to protect them in transit to planting site.
• Stake and brace trees at planting time only if needed. Support the tree but let it sway.
• Use wide, belt-like strapping attached to two sturdy stakes. Do not use wire through a hose.
• Mulch lightly with about 2-3″ of composted material at least to the diameter of the crown of the tree. Leave 3″ circle of bare soil around the trunk. Deep layers of mulch can be harmful.
• Do not plant flowers under the tree.
• Do not fertilize at planting time.

Tree Care

Watering after Planting

  • In the first two years after planting (at least), regular watering is the most important thing you can do to promote tree establishment.
  • In those first two years, special attention must be paid to keeping the rootball moist.
  • The rootball must be considered as a separate system from the surrounding soil.
  • Watering must be deep watering – and should be related to the amount of water already in the soil in the rootball. 10 gal. of water should be enough to moisten a 2 ft. rootball.
  • A raised ring of soil can be used to contain water during the establishment phase.
  • Mulch is a very useful tool for conserving moisture in the soil

The Benefits of Mulching

  • Retains Soil Moisture
  • Controls Weeds and Grasses
  • Protects the Trunk and Surface Roots from Mowing Equipment
  • Provides Erosion Control by Protecting Soil from Rain Impact
  • Increases Soil Fertility as Mulch Decays
  • Improves Soil Structure and Soil Aeration
  • Simplifies Maintenance
  • Improves Appearance
  • Reduces Soil Cracking
  • Helps Prevent Soil Compaction

More Information

Download these flyers (in PDF format) for more information:

Proper Mulching

Proper Tree Planting

Municipal Assistance

Some of the best information on Municipal Assistance can be found through the Forest Services Web Site for the Northeast Center for Urban Forestry:

Helpful Articles & Sites