Experts and BHG readers answer.
What's the best way to plant a bare-root tree?
As long as the frost is out of the ground, it will take minimal tools to work with your new trees. Here's what to do. Before planting a bare-root tree, soak the roots for a few hours in a bucket of water to make them plump and fresh. (Avoid soaking too long; roots need oxygen as well as moisture.) Dig a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots without cramping them. Mound some soil into a cone shape in the center of the hole.
Prune back any broken roots to healthy tissue. Also remove dead roots and ones that seem unduly twisted. Set the plant in the hole, spreading the roots evenly over the soil cone. The plant's original soil line should show just above ground level. Backfill the hole with the dug soil until it is three-quarters full. Then water thoroughly, filling the hole and allowing the water to soak in. Fill the hole with the soil until it is at ground level. If the plant has settled in too deeply during watering, pull it up gently to the correct level. Firm the soil with your foot to eliminate any air pockets that may be left in the planting hole. Shape a ridge of soil around the edge of the planting hole to create a watering saucer, and water again.