Angie's List: Guide to fall tree planting

"Trees are a great asset," said Angie's Lists' Angie Hicks. "They can add up to 15 percent to the value of your home if they are well-maintained. But when planning and planting, you need to be sure you're accounting for what they will be like when they are full grown. Sometimes, people make the mistake of planting them too close to their driveway or to their home, which could cause their driveway to buckle or their foundation to crack."

Once you have found the ideal location, it's time to select a healthy tree.

"The most important thing really is the framework of the tree, the wood part," said nursery owner Jeff Gatewood. "A good, clean, straight trunk and a good even branching habit. More important than anything else is the framework because it's going to be there year after year."

Trees are usually sold as bare root or in a root ball or container.

"When it's in a pot it has its entire root system underneath of it in the pot, whereas a ball one has been cut and dug up out of a field," said Gatewood. "So it hasn't got all of its roots by any means and it has to spend the first two years regenerating all of its roots, whereas a tree in a pot immediately can start growing on top where the customer wants to see it grow."

Gatewood says a common mistake he sees is the planting depth. The top of the soil in the pots should be exactly level with the soil in your lawn. A tiny bit above won't hurt, but an inch or two deep can hurt the tree.

"You never want the grass to grow around the trunk of the tree. Always take out a big circle of sod, four to six feet in diameter, plant the tree in the middle, mulch it."

When it comes to mulch, do not pile it up along the trunk because the mulch stays moist and that attracts insects and causes rot. Gatewood says newly planted trees should get an inch of water a week.

Here are a few more tips:

If you need help selecting and planting trees, a certified arborist can help guide you. Check for membership in professional organizations, such as the International Society of Arboriculture.

Once you've scouted a location, call 811 to schedule an underground utility inspection. The service is available nationwide at no cost to the homeowner. Otherwise, you risk digging through a utility line, potentially knocking out power to your neighborhood.

Avoid planting trees that will grow large under power lines or other trees.

And fruit-bearing trees should be kept away from any pavement because the fruit will stain.

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