Tree Planting Guide

Ontario Tree Planting Guide

This tree planting guide includes tips and tricks on choosing the right type of tree, transporting the tree, and installing it on your property. We even give you some advice on how to maintain your new trees. Choose from evergreens, seasonally blooming hardwoods, and trees of all shapes, sizes, and canopy styles. When you’re ready to make a purchase, Dutchmaster Nurseries has thousands of trees to choose from and we always make our best effort to have the plants you need, when you need them.

Site/Soil Assessment

Before choosing a tree species, conduct a soil assessment. You should ensure that the conditions match the tree planting requirements for the variety you wish to plant. Tree roots need access to water, air, and nutrients to thrive. If you plan to plant trees in an area prone to occasional flooding, you’ll need a species that can handle higher moisture levels. Other species can grow in soil with low nutrients or tolerate compact soil in urban areas.

It may take a little research. However, you can get a good idea of the type of soil by examining drainage, texture, compaction, pH levels, and other factors.

Tree Selection

Before making the final tree selection, you need to consider other factors such as the sun or shade the tree will receive and whether your property has clay, wet soil, sandy soil, or nutrient-rich soil. It’s also essential to determine the canopy size at maturity, disease or pest vulnerabilities, and ideal growing conditions. By following professional tree planting standards, you can look forward to healthy, strong pest and disease-resistant trees and add value to your landscape.

Site Preparation/Drainage

Compact soil doesn’t allow proper airflow to support the organic matter needed for trees and plants to thrive. Therefore, it may be necessary to amend the soil when organic matter and nutrient levels are low. You’ll need to loosen the dirt before preparing the area for tree installation. Loose, healthy soil that allows water filtration and aeration can support root growth and attract beneficial soil biota.

Here are few tips for site preparation from the knowledgeable team at our tree nursery:

  • Calculate required setbacks before preparing the site.
  • Conduct mechanical or manual de-compaction, and tilling, if needed.
  • Determine whether you need to add nutrients or high-quality planting soil.

How to Plant Bare Root, Balled and Burlapped, and Wire Basket Trees 

This section of our tree planting guide covers three tree nursery production methods, bare-root, balled and burlapped, and wire baskets. When choosing trees at our wholesale nursery in Ontario, consider the level of maintenance required, including mulching, irrigation, and weed control. If you’re planting in high-quality soil with good drainage, all three types should do well. For areas with no irrigation or poor soil, you’ll have to choose your trees more carefully.

Let’s review the benefits and disadvantages of each production method.

Bare Root

Trees with bare roots are a cost-effective choice and easy to transport. By nature, these trees typically have strong lateral root systems and few circling roots that need to be repositioned before planting.

However, you must be careful to avoid root dry out when handling on-site or receiving trees shipped to your property. You can only transplant bare-root trees and saplings during the dormant season for the species, and you may lose roots while digging. Also, there’s a size limitation of about 50 mm (2 inches) in diameter. Irrigation and staking are critical after planting.

Balled and Burlapped and Wire Basket Trees

Trees with a soil ball include wire basket, balled and burlapped, and those planted with a fabric bag. In the pros column, these production methods support large caliper tree sizes. They arrive with a soil ball, reducing water stress in transit. Wire basket trees also tend to transplant easier with less effort as they are accustomed to growing in field soil without constant irrigation as opposed to plants that are container grown which require more care once planted.

You may not have to stake these trees. However, you’ll have to assess that on a case-by-case basis, following professional tree planting standards. Although, this is usually mitigated with nursery root pruning practices which help to create a dense root system.

There are a few limitations to consider for wire basket and balled and burlapped trees. First, they are more costly to produce and transport since you can fit fewer trees in each truckload. Installation typically requires equipment due to heavier weight and size. Roots can be lost while digging them out, and optimal transplantation follows the dormant season for the trees.

3 Tips for Transporting Trees from Your Ontario Tree Nursery

When shipping trees, there are three key points to keep in mind:

  • Keep individual trees protected and make sure the roots stay moist.
  • Avoid dropping the trees and rough handling.
  • Ensure tree roots get adequate moisture on site.

Tree Transportation and Handling

Transporting trees in covered or closed vehicles helps prevent needles, leaves, and branches from drying out. If you dig out a tree during the growing season, you need to harden it off by slowly exposing the roots to air, wind, and weather. This will help the roots develop protective cuticles.

Handle individual trees and bundles of trees carefully to avoid scarring the bark. For young trees in wire baskets, lift trees carefully by the basket or supporting the root ball. Use extreme caution when loading and unloading trees to avoid damaging delicate branches, stems, and roots. Also, inspect trees before loading them at the tree nursery and after unloading them from the truck. Documenting the condition of root balls, trunks, and branches creates a record of transportation and delivery conditions.

Working with an established wholesale nursery in Ontario can help ensure proper handling during the excavation, loading, transporting, and unloading processes. Dutchmaster Nurseries has been providing gorgeous trees to customers since 1971, and our drivers and tree installation experts use the utmost care to deliver healthy trees to your property.

Tree Installation

Transplant shock can last up to five years for some species. Therefore, it’s essential to carefully consider the timing of planting and transplanting trees. To stay on the safe side, it’s a good idea to wait until the dormant season to plant a tree. Remember that different species have unique dormant and active seasons, so it’s important to be aware of the tree planting requirements for each.

To maximize root survival, wait until soil temperatures reach a minimum of 7.5°C (45°F). Planting trees in favourable soil temperatures promotes root growth and can help trees thrive in a new location.

If you have to prune the trees before planting, use sharp, clean tools. After pruning dead roots and branches, prepare the soil to ensure proper drainage and water retention. Next, determine the hole depth needed to cover the root ball.

Best Trees to Plant in Southern Ontario—Standards & Guides

Below are some valuable resources that can help you determine which trees thrive in Southern Ontario:

  • Landscape Ontario offers a comprehensive guide reflecting best practices from the local horticulture industry.   
  • The Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA) has detailed information on tree planting requirements and tree planting standards. You can download their Canadian Nursery Stock Standards Guide.  
  • Greening the Canadian landscape synthesizes numerous research sources to aid property owners and managers looking for selection guidance for trees and shrubs. The site has a tree selection tool customized for different areas in Ontario and elsewhere.
  • Cornell University’s Woody Plants Database is an American site that’s also useful to Canadian property owners and managers looking for information about tree planting standards. You can use it to pick shrubs, trees, and groundcover that will thrive in different site conditions by understanding their tree planting requirements.

Keep reading for tips on the best deciduous and evergreen options in Canada. No matter what species you decide on, carefully consider the tree planting standards needed for your new trees to thrive.

Mature Trees for Sale in Ontario

Dutchmaster Nurseries offers hundreds of trees. Choose from saplings to mature trees with established root balls. Most of our maples, oaks, and other deciduous trees are available in a wide range of sizes.

The following species include native and adaptive trees that do well in urban, suburban, and natural settings throughout Ontario:

  • Red Maple (Native)
  • Balsam Fir (Native)-evergreen
  • Tulip Tree (Native)
  • Katsura
  • Red Bud
  • Royal Star Magnolia
  • Chanticleer Pear

Here’s a closer look at just a few of these unique trees available at our wholesale nursery in Ontario:

  • Red maples love full sunlight, show off red and yellow foliage in the fall, and create plenty of shade during the warmest months of the year. These trees don’t do well in alkaline soil. These noble trees feature lobed leaves and grow red flowers in early spring, growing to a height of 50 feet with a 40-foot canopy. Furrowed silver bark adds to the visual appeal of these trees when you choose them for your landscape.
  • Tulip trees need lots of sunshine but also a lot of moisture in the warmer months. Deep, rich and moist soil is best for these fast-growing trees. The roots of the tree spread wide, and the trunk may grow up to 35 m. in height and up to 160 cm. in diameter. Sand and sandy loam are ideal soil types as they provide the depth, richness and moisture required by this species. In the spring, the tree bears tulip-shaped flowers that are yellowish green. The light green leaves have a pretty shape—straight across the top edge with four lobes underneath. The tulip tree’s fall foliage is a lovely yellow.        
  • Balsam firs are often used as Christmas trees because they have a nice fragrance, and the tree shape is ideal for decorating inside the home. You’ll find this tree growing across Ontario and it is easily recognizable. The tall, narrow tree is almost skinny at the top, resembling a steeple. This fir tree bears barrel-shaped cones that are greyish-brown and 4-10 cm. long. The needles are a dark, shiny green and only about 2-4 cm. long. Balsam firs have a high tolerance for various levels of sun/shade and moisture and do well in many types of soil. Because the roots don’t go too deep, it is best to plant these trees at a safe distance from building structures, to avoid potential damage during inclement weather.

3 Evergreens for Privacy Screens and Hedges

Evergreens from Dutchmaster Nurseries provide year-round greenery and form magnificent hedges and privacy screens. You can choose from saplings and mature firs, hemlocks, cedars, boxwoods, pines, yews, and other evergreens available at our wholesale nursery in Ontario.

Many of our landscape partners suggest planting your evergreens in a zigzag pattern for greater coverage that allows air and sunlight to reach every branch. Mixing and matching different evergreens can help prevent pests or diseases from wiping out your entire hedge.

Below, we highlight three popular evergreens that do well throughout Ontario:

  • Yews form fast-growing, dense hedges that you can prune into shape. Hard pruning during the winter can help keep your hedge under control from year to year. Dutchmaster Nurseries has at least a dozen yew varietals to choose from.
  • Firs grow into spire shapes that property owners love. Most often, people plant Balsam firs as statement trees on their property. However, they also look great planted en masse to form a privacy screen. Balsam firs excel in moist soil and atmospheres, and most varieties have blue-green hues and lovely profiles. Dutchmaster Nurseries has several firs, some with flowers and berries, for you to select from.
  • Pines also intrigue Ontario property owners. White pines grow from 50 to 80 feet, with a 20 to 40-foot canopy. Like many evergreens, white pines grow quickly, but their billowy texture differs from the rigid outlines of many evergreens. These trees also create their own mulch when bits of them fall off. You can use them to beautify your landscape and add a privacy screen. Contact us if you’re looking for a local tree nursery with dozens of Austrian, red, and white pines, as well as other varieties that provide privacy and add beauty to your landscaping.

Be sure to check out all evergreens available at Dutchmaster Nurseries, including cedars, hemlocks, and boxwoods.

When is the Best Time to Plant a Tree?

Feel free to consult with one of our tree planting experts to find the best time to plant a tree. It varies from species to species. Generally, it’s best to plant or transplant a tree during its dormant period, although you can continue planting outside of the dormant period as long as you are careful with your trees.

Post-Planting Care

Replace or remove dead trees as part of your annual landscaping maintenance. You’ll also need to stake or adjust trees that lean. Keep the soil surrounding the roots moist to promote growth. If you use an irrigation system, make sure that your trees are getting enough water. Be careful not to overwater as trees that constantly have wet roots can be susceptible to root rot.

Here are a few other post-planning care tips from the arborists at our tree nursery:

  • Keep weeds under control to protect the roots and other parts of newly planted trees.
  • Cultivating larger areas with trees can help control weeds.
  • For best results, weed around root areas by hand.
  • Replenish mulch annually to maintain moisture and carefully prune trees to maintain the desired look.
  • Manage disease, pests, and damage.

Dutchmaster Nurseries offers wholesale trees and plant material for all your landscaping and garden design needs.  We also offer wholesale shrubs, evergreens, perennials, vines, and pond plants. Are you planting a tree? Ask us about transporting your trees and our truck spading service. Contact us for more information.


10 Best Evergreens for Privacy Screens and Hedges (

10 Outstanding Evergreen Trees for Privacy | Better Homes & Gardens (

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