Tree Planting & How to Go About Measuring a Mature Tree’s Size

Do you provide tree care services in addition to your lawn care business? Then, you need to know how to determine a mature tree’s size.

Fall is the best time to plant young trees because the soil is still warm, and the cooler temperatures allow saplings to develop a sound root system before the winter freeze.


Why the Mature Tree’s Size Matters

When planting or transplanting trees for a homeowner or commercial property, you need to know how tall and wide the specimens will be when they reach maturity.

While most tree nurseries will have tags giving tree size estimates, you know those sizes can vary. Instead, it’s better to measure the tree saplings that you want to buy.

Before you buy any trees from a nursery, make sure you plot out where the tree will be planted on your customers’ property. Here are some things to be aware of:

  1. What type of trees will work on your customer’s property?
  2. Will any power lines intersect with the tree’s canopy?
  3. How will the tree’s mature size affect the view?
  4. What is the homeowner or property manager’s tree goals? To benefit from a tree’s environmental benefits, add more shade and green spaces?
  5. Will the customer mind any seedpods, fruits, or other debris from the new tree?
  6. How wide will the trunk be at full size?
  7. Will the mature tree’s width drown out the customer’s home or another building on the property?
  8. Don’t forget about the root spread underground. When you’re accessing a customer’s property to plant new trees, you need to consider if there will be enough room for the tree roots to spread out beyond the canopy.


How to Measure a Tree

There are three ways to measure trees:

  • Using a tape measure and doing some math. This article explains more about calculating the tree’s width and height.
  • Use modern technological tools, such as a clinometer and laser hypsometer. You’ll still need to use this formula “Circumference in inches + height in feet + 1/4 of the average crown spread = total points.” Refer to the above article link for more information.
  • Use a tree app called Arboreal that you download to your mobile device. The app measures the height and width of the tree. The app also allows you to record information for future reference.

Learn more: Vertical Mulching for Trees


How to Plant a Tree

After calculating a tree’s height and width at maturity, it’s time to pick the trees that will work well on your customer’s property.

In general, it takes two people to plant a tree. Here’s what you need to know to plant a tree:

  1. Go to the area where you took measurements to plant the new trees.
  2. Dig a hole that is shallow and wide. Holes should be 1½ to three times the root ball’s diameter. Use a wider figure if you’re planting the tree with soil compaction and clay soil.
  3. Place the tree in its designated spot. Use straps or ropes around the root ball if you're planting large trees. You don’t want to move a large tree by its trunk.

Make sure the tree is straight. This is where the second person comes in. They hold the tree while the other person checks how the tree is standing.

Ensure that the root flare is above ground. Find the root flare where the large, topmost root emerges from the trunk. Tilt or raise the tree and slide soil under the root ball if the hole is too deep and will bury the root flare.

The top of the root ball should be 1” above ground for small trees. For larger trees, the top of the root ball should sit at 3” above ground.

  1. After placing the tree in the hole and checking that it’s straight, you want to remove all of the burlap, plastic, and other wrappings from the root ball. Check your tree’s warranty to ensure you can take off the wire baskets.
  2. Use the soil you dug up to backfill the hole. Also, this is the time to add ROOTS Tree Saver, a granular soil amendment containing beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi.

ROOTS Tree Saver also contains beneficial rhizosphere bacteria, mycorrhizae, kelp meal, and humic acids to improve soil and plant health.

After backfilling, ensure you don’t stomp on the ground because it will compact the soil.

You’re finished backfilling when the top of the root ball sticks above ground by 1” for small trees and 3” for larger trees.

If you want to give your customer’s trees a good start in life, you can buy ROOTS Tree Saver by contacting your local distributor.

Read more: Spring and Fall Fertilization of Trees


Sources:, How to Measure a Tree., 4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Next Backyard Tree.