Planting A New Tree In The Same Hole As The Old One

Planting A New Tree In The Same Hole As The Old One

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Space is at a premium for most gardeners, so reusing empty spots where another plant once was is essential! Maybe it’s just where your favorite flowering tree was or that perfect shade tree that was lost to a storm. But can you? Should you?

Making Room for a New Tree father and son planting a new tree together

Depending on how established and large the former tree was you usually encounter a few issues when reusing a spot once occupied by an old tree. After a moment of silence, go ahead and plant right on top of where that other tree once was.

Maybe it was a small tree or a young tree that unfortunately died right away and didn’t take, maybe it was just not the right tree for your location or climate? Luckily, in this case, there are very few parts of its root zone remaining, and it is very easy to just dig a new hole and get planting!

Larger and older trees, however, leave behind a few concerns. Depending on how long ago this tree died and just how large it was, you’ll have some prep work ahead of you! stump killer product

Often rotting under the ground and creating voids over time as they break down, you will have to deal with the stump and possibly, an extensive root system. It’s unsightly, it’s a trip hazard and you’ll be filling voids as the larger root system decomposes.

If your tree company didn’t grind these out for you, there are a few ways to deal with it. There are many products that break down the stump faster and you can call someone to come grind the stump out. Remember, any chemicals you use will need time to degrade before the new tree should be planted.

But while you wait for that to happen, tackle the other issues your former tree may have left behind.

Dealing With The Remains

First, you need to determine (if you haven’t already) why the former tree died. Was it a pest or insect issue? Disease or fungus? Was it a drainage problem or a storm?  digging up a dead tree

Unless it was storm damage, you need to prevent it from happening again to the new tree or choose a new species that won’t be affected. 

In general, a new tree, and one that isn’t stressed, is very resistant to pests, disease and other systemic problems, so it’s not a major issue. But the cost and effort to establish a new tree are well worth eliminating the previous problems from the soil up. 

  • Choose a different species that won’t be affected by the same problems or pests
  • Or choose a new and improved tree that has more resistances built right in 
  • Select a new tree best suited for your climate and for that specific location
  • Determine if this location was good for a tree in the first place
  • Dig out as much of the old wood as you can, then fill with new soil to level the area
  • It’s very important not to plant too deep as it is terrible for the tree. Plant at the proper depth or a bit higher and mulch well for great success

Either way, it's a good idea to make sure the problem isn’t present any longer to affect someone else's tree or others on your property either.

If the cause was related to a known pest or fungus, your Arborist usually takes care of this for you. If the cause was unknown, just plant a different species of tree to avoid future issues. 

Preparing New Ground

You’ll want to prepare the new site by: tree support product

  • Adding enriched compost and topsoil
  • Digging out and disposing of affect soil
  • Fluffing compacted soil
  • Providing drainage if this was a drainage issue
  • Dig a hole about twice the size of the new root ball
  • Backfill with quality soil (Add Nature Hills Root Booster to speed root establishment)
  • Leveling out the area and packing down gently to remove air pockets
  • Mulching the surface well

Remember to have a reliable water source for your new tree and a tree support system won’t hurt either!

When it’s best to move on

The only time it’s worthwhile to move on and choose a new location is when something happened to the previous tree that involved a chemical spill, septic leaks, or other poison introduced into the area. 

Maybe gasoline or motor oil saturated the soil or you have one of those neighbors? Perhaps too much herbicide was spilled or applied to the ground leaving a completely dead zone? Short of removing all the soil from the area and filling it with new, there’s not much you can do about that location but wait for it to degrade in the sun, rain, and time.

planting a new tree

In some cases, there’s just too much of the old tree still there to feasibly plant in the same place. So until nature, or great expense removes it, it's best to plant just off to the side of the remains or start fresh in a new location. Especially if that location was the problem that caused the demise of the previous inhabitant.

Instead, use arborist wood chips to spread over the area until these larger roots have had a chance to decompose. To enhance the area, you can add perennials and groundcovers to create a new landscape bed.

Picking up the pieces and replanting after losing a favorite tree can be difficult and change is never easy, but Nature Hills is here to help move on with some new and exciting options to spruce up your landscape and help move on from the loss of a tree!

Still have questions or concerns? Call us or visit and ask our horticulture experts for advice! We’ll be happy to assist you with choosing the right tree that’s perfect for you and your unique needs!

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