What is a ball and burlap tree?

A ball and burlap tree is a tree that has been field grown from a seedling to a predetermined size, approximately 4 foot and up. We dig from 4′ to 10′ on evergreens and 1.5′ to 4′ caliper on shade trees and river birch. Each tree is dug and placed in a wire basket lined with burlap. The burlap is then pulled up and folded neatly around the trunk at which time we tie a sisal rope from the basket around the trunk and back to basket until all upright loops are tied. Then we pigtail the baskets so they are tight around the ball of soil containing the roots of the tree.

Camellia Sasanqua

Crepe Myrtle



Magnolia Grandiflora



Windmill Palm

Italian Cypress

How do I plant a ball and burlap tree?

When planting a ball & burlap tree, leave the burlap and basket on. Removing it can result in damaging the roots. The burlap and basket are designed to rot in a few years. When fertilizing ball & burlap trees, keep in mind some roots are cut off when dug. That leaves the root ends raw and fertilizer can burn the roots. It’s best not to fertilize the first year.


Dig a hole 3 to 4 times wider than the container. The hole should have sloping sides like a saucer to allow for proper root growth.


Set the tree in the middle of the hole. Avoid planting the tree too deep. If the root collar sits below the top of the hole, compact some soil under the tree so that the root flare at the base of the trunk is slightly above ground level. Using some soil, secure the tree in a straight position, then fill and firmly pack the hole with the original soil, making sure there aren’t any air pockets. Keep backfilling until the soil is just below the root collar.


Create a water-holding basin around the hole and give the tree a good watering. After the water has soaked in, spread protective mulch 2–4 inches deep in a 3-foot diameter area around the base of the tree, but not touching the trunk.


The soil and mulch around your trees should be kept moist but not soggy. During dry weather, generously water the tree every 7 to 10 days during the first year. Water slowly at the dripline.

Not a do-it-yourself type of person?

Hire our sister company, Botanica Gardens, to install your trees or shrubs for you.

Visit Botanica Gardens Online