We just moved into a new development that planted new oak trees in our yard. One didn’t look so good, so we had someone come out and take a look. Just below the ground he noticed the oak was planted in a plastic bucket/wrap. Can the oaks planted this way grow? He advised it would die in a matter of a couple years as the root system has no way to spread. Is this true?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with this question.
Trees should not be planted in the ground in the plastic buckets that nurseries use for young saplings. Those containers should be carefully removed prior to planting in a properly prepared space. The person who looked at your tree is quite correct: the root development of your oak tree is crucial to its future health, and your tree will not thrive unless its roots have a chance to spread and grow, nourishing the top growth of the tree.
If you feel confident in your skills, you could attempt to dig the tree up, pot and all, and start over. The Toronto Master Gardeners has a comprehensive guide to tree planting that should be a helpful guide: https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/gardeningguides/planting-a-tree-a-toronto-master-gardeners-guide/
If you are not sure that you are up to this task, you may wish to consider contacting an arborist who can advise on the tree’s health and replant it for you. Landscape Ontario has a webpage that can help you find a tree care specialist in your neighbourhood: https://landscapeontario.com/search?lat=43.653226&lng=-79.3831843&query=Arborists%2FTree+Care