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Peel burlap from the top of the root ball

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burlap around roots

Under optimal conditions and when trees are staked at planting, string and burlap (arrow) can be unfastened from the trunk and top of the root ball as shown above. Using your hands or small tool, remove soil from the top of the root ball next to the trunk until you reach the first root emerging from the trunk. Remove soil from the rest of the root ball down to this same point by pulling it away from the trunk and place it into the planting hole. This may not be necessary if the top-most root is visible at the root ball surface. Remove root defects such as roots that circle the trunk.

Many contractors do not remove burlap that is secured in place, and trees appear to do fine in many instances as long as they are not planted too deeply in the root ball. It can be difficult to determine planting depth in the root ball with the burlap still on the top. Pinned burlap can probably be left in place if you know trees are not too deep in the root ball and if there are no root defects. String has to be removed from around the trunk in all instances.