Thank you for your question.
Planting your Tree
"If you bought a tree in a burlap bag, after the tree is set in the
hole and some dirt has been added to the hole, cut loose the tie
around the base of the trunk. This tie will not decompose fast enough,
and if left on the tree will girdle the trunk and can kill the tree.
The burlap can be pulled back from the trunk, but does not have to be
removed because it will quickly decompose and will not inhibit root
growth. This is only true if it is common burlap---plastic burlap must
Fill the dirt back in the hole, firmly --- but don't stomp. The soil
should just cover the root ball. Make sure there is no twine or
anything left around the trunk that could cause girdling. To help with
watering your tree, you should build a "dam" around the tree. Build up
the dirt several inches high in a circle around the tree, 2 to 3 feet
in diameter. This will hold more water and direct the water into the
root ball when you water. Water the tree well when you are finished
planting to eliminate air pockets and settle the soil."
Planting Guide Balled & Burlapped Trees
"Next, you need to remove the top half of the wire cage surrounding
the rootball. There is some disagreement about how much, if any of the
wire cage should be removed when planting a B&B tree. We believe that
removing the top half of the cage is the best compromise. It's very
important to remember that once the cage is removed, the tree cannot
be moved without grave risk to the tree. Bolt cutters work best to cut
the cage, though a hacksaw will do the job. Before cutting the cage,
cut all of the twine off of the top of the rootball and remove it.
Then cut all of the vertical wires below the second or third
horizontal wire. Cut through the two or three horizontal wires, and
now you can spread apart the top of the cage and remove it."
PARKS, RECREATION & URBAN FORESTRY DEPARTMENT Planting a Tree for Prolonged Life
Balled and Burlaped Trees
"There are specific steps to follow depending on whether your tree is
B&B, container grown, potted, or bare root. B&B can be a little tricky
because of burlap covering the wire basket. Do not remove the wire
basket and burlap prior to placing the tree in the hole. Place the
tree on the compacted soil in the bottom of the hole, disturbing the
roots as little as possible. Peel back the burlap so it will not
interfere with root growth. Using bolt cutters, snip the wire basket
down as far as possible and remove."
Spruce Planting and Pre-Planting Care
4) If the tree is B&B (balled in burlap trees are grown and
root-pruned in fields, then dug-up and wrapped in burlap for sale) cut
off any twine around the trunk and fold down the upper few inches of
the burlap at this time. The burlap will rot-away shortly. Many trees
are B&B and then placed into pots so look for twine at the base of
your trees above the root-ball."
Virginia Department of Forestry
How To Plant A Tree Planting Balled and Burlapped Trees
"Balled and burlapped (B & B) trees, although best planted as soon as
possible, can be stored for some time after purchase as long as the
ball is kept moist and the tree stored in a shady area. B & B trees
should always be lifted by the ball, never by the trunk. The burlap
surrounding the ball of earth and roots should either be cut away
completely (mandatory, in the case of synthetic or plastic burlap) or
at least pulled back from the top third of the ball (in the case of
natural burlap). Any string or twine should also be removed. Backfill
soil (combinations of peat moss, composted manure, topsoil, etc.) is
then placed in the hole surrounding the tree just to the height of the
ball or slightly lower to allow for some settling. Be careful not to
compress the back fill soil as this may prevent water from reaching
the roots and the roots from expanding beyond the ball."
"Balled-and-Burlapped Plants: Balled-and-burlapped (or B&B) trees and
shrubs are likely to have been grown in nursery rows for some time.
Some have been root pruned periodically, and have developed compact,
fibrous, healthy root systems. Others may have had most of their
absorbing roots removed at digging time. B&B plants with good root
systems re-establish themselves rapidly after planting.
B&B plants' root balls are wrapped in burlap, which may be either
natural jute or plastic. If it is a natural fiber, the burlap can be
folded into the bottom of the planting hole. If it is plastic, it must
be removed. In either case, remove the ropes or twine that hold the
ball together. If the root ball is large and in a metal basket, cut
away the basket, so the roots can spread without any interference.
Always lift a B&B plant by its soil ball. Lifting a B&B plant by its
stem places stress on the roots. When planting, carefully set the soil
ball into the hole, loosen the burlap, and pull it back. Do not jostle
it too much, especially if the soil in the ball is sandy; sandy soil
falls away readily, exposing and damaging the roots.
You can plant B&B plants almost any time that the ground can be
worked, but if you plant them in midsummer, take care to keep them
adequately watered. As with most plants, spring planting is preferred.
The next best time to plant B&B plants is October/November, when they
Photos at this site:
balled and burlap B&B tree planting spruce remove cage