Planting Tips & Maintenance

Look UP, DOWN, & AROUND Before You Plant

Look up: Are power lines overhead?

Never plant trees directly under power lines. Be sure to verify maturity height of the tree you are planting as well as the minimum spacing requirements away from power lines.

Look down: Are there power lines underground?

Call before you dig! Your safety is of utmost importance. Call TN-One Call to locate underground utility lines before you dig. Click HERE for more information. Plant trees and shrubs at least three feet away from underground power lines.

Look around: Do you see a green metal box in your yard?

If you do see a green metal box in your yard, then it could be a BrightRidge transformer. NEVER plant trees or shrubs in front of the transformer doors. NEVER use probes to water or fertilize shrubs around transformers. If you do decide to plant around the transformer box, consider mature plant size and always maintain a minimum two-foot clearance from all sides of the transformers. Once, again, remember to call before you dig. Never begin digging without having underground power lines identified by the experts at TN One Call.

Maturity Height vs. Minimum Space

Tree size
(Fully Mature)
Minimum spacing
power line
Up to 20 feet 20 to 25 feet
20 to 40 feet 30 to 35 feet
40 feet and up 40 to 45 feet

*See also Recommended Tree List for a list of trees.

Tree Planting

  • Step 1: After selecting the tree and site, dig a hole as deep as the root ball. The width of the hole should be twice as wide as the size of the root ball. Remove any large stones and break up any large dirt clods as you dig.
  • Step 2: Set the new tree in the hole. The root ball should be at or slightly above the surrounding ground. Be sure to remove any burlap that may be covering the root ball or remove any containers.
  • Step 3: Fill the hole with the soil you have removed. Gently tamp the dirt as you go. Add enough soil to slightly cover the root ball. Periodically check to make sure the tree is straight and fill the hole halfway with soil.
  • Step 4: Water the tree. It’s best to water with a hose (five to ten minutes for small trees; longer for large trees).
  • Step 5: (Optional) Add mulch three to four inches deep at the base of the tree; extending out at least six to eight feet from the trunk.
  • Step 6: Stabilize the tree with guy wires and stakes. Make sure the tree is straight before staking.

Tree Maintenance

  • New trees should be watered weekly.
  • Water the tree slow and deep; let the water soak and saturate the soil.
  • Don’t hit it with the lawn mower or weed eater.
  • Remove any dead or dying branches.
  • Prune unwanted sprouts or “suckers” from the base of the trunk or major branches.
  • Maintain a mulch ring around the tree base to help retain moisture, minimize weeds, and keep mowers away from the tree. (Mulch bed should be about three inches. Do not pile mulch against the trunk.)
  • Fertilize the tree every few years.
  • Watch for insects and disease, treat as needed.
  • Consult with a garden center for further tree maintenance tips.