Planting a Pecan Tree

When choosing shade trees for the lawn, or when creating a self-sufficient mini-farm, planting a pecan tree seems like a sensible option. Pecan trees, like many other nut trees, grow into very large, stately, beautiful trees. There are some contraindications to growing pecans, but planting a pecan tree will eventually provide you with a yearly supply of delicious, healthful nuts.

If you are thinking of planting a pecan tree, there are a few things you need to be aware of. For one thing, they grow to be very large. A pecan tree can grow to be 100 feet tall and the crown spreads out widely. This means that they can affect the shade level in your neighbor's yard. If your neighbor enjoys having a vegetable garden each year, they might not appreciate your rapidly growing nut tree.

Pecan Pests

Another thing to consider when planting a pecan tree is that they are prone to a certain amount of insect damage. Tent caterpillars are an ugly sight, but pecan trees are prone to get them. Pecan trees also have a number of things they drop throughout the years, such as male flowers and sap, making them a rather messy tree to have in your yard.

If you still think planting a pecan tree is for you, look for one in the nursery that is about three or four years old. It should be between six and eight feet tall. If it is smaller than that, it might be a runt that will never do very well.

The tree you pick should not have a lot of branches. When you plant it, you should cut it back to 42 inches tall. The tree should be cut back because when a nursery balls the root of a young tree, the tree loses about half of its roots.

Where to Plant

When choosing a location for planting a pecan tree, be sure to pick a spot that provides good drainage. The tree will not be able to absorb the nutrients it needs if it is standing with wet feet for large periods of time. It might not even be able to absorb the water it needs, because the poor drainage will affect the quantity of oxygen in the soil.

If you are unsure of the drainage where you are planning on planting a pecan tree, you can test it. Simply dig a hole that is 8 inches wide and 32 inches deep. Do this test while the soil is already wet. Put seven gallons of water in the hole. Check it periodically.

If it still has water in it after 48 hours, pick a different spot. If the hole is empty within the first 8 hours, you have really good drainage, but even if it doesn't drain until 24 hours, you could still grow a pecan tree there.


Soak the root system in water for about an hour before planting a pecan tree. The hole should be the same size as the root ball. The depth should be such that only the roots will be underground. Start filling in around the roots with loose soil, preferably the same soil that you dug out.

Press the soil down around the root. Add water after you have the hole about three quarters full. Let the water soak in, and then finish adding soil, but leave the top part of the soil loose.

In some of the southern states, pecan trees grow wild along creeks and rivers. If you don't have any other pecan trees within a couple of miles of your home, and you have a lot of room, it makes sense to plant two varieties for cross pollination. When planting a pecan tree, one of the best varieties for the home is called the Sioux.

See Also:

Planting Cypress Trees