Planting a tree correctly ensures a good start to the life of your tree allowing it to grow to maturity twice as fast and live twice as long.
Trees or shrubs will either come as a containerized plant, meaning they either exist in an actual pot or in a burlap bag, or they will come as a bare rooted plant. How you plant each does differ.
Bare Root Tree
Soak the roots in water for 6-12 hours before planting.
Dig a hole only as deep as the plant stood in the nursery but as wide as needed to not crowd the roots in any way. It is better to dig it too wide than too narrow.
Turn up the soil in a 3 foot diameter around your hole to promote root growth.
Place tree in hole and refill with the dirt, firming it but not compacting the earth.
Don't let the root ball dry out before planting.
Handle the tree by the root ball and not by the branches or trunk.
Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball but 5 times as wide.
Remove burlap or container.
If roots are very tight, make some vertical cuts through them to loosen.
Place the tree in the hole and refill with soil, firming but not compacting.
Whether you start with a bare root tree or a containerized plant,
mulch heavily around the base for a 3 foot diameter,
keep area free of grass and weeds,
water well throughout the first season and
prune only dead branches.