If you've ever seen the flowery show of cherry trees along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., you've been witness to the beauty of the Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis). While you and the kids can delight in eating the cherries that come off the tree, it's more often planted for ornamental purposes. The Yoshino cherry is a fast-growing tree that may get as high as about 20 feet in a few years or 30 to 40 feet at maturity. When you get it from a nursery, it may already be as high as 10 feet tall, but with careful planting you can still get it to thrive.
Choose a planting site that is in a sunny or partly sunny spot, with good drainage and about 25 feet from other trees. To give your tree the best chance possible, plant it in early spring. The Yoshino cherry is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 8 where "early spring" is typically late March or early April, though it may be later if you have a particularly cold winter.
Look near the tree's root ball to find the line indicating the depth that it was planted in its original location. You'll be able to see where the trunk hit the soil by looking for a place near the root ball where the trunk gets darker. Measure the distance from the bottom of the root ball to that line. Also measure the width of the root ball.
Dig a hole in the ground that is the same depth as your first measurement, and roughly 50 percent wider than your width measurement.
Remove the tree from its pot or planting bag very gently. Since the tree is already so tall, you may need a friend to help you hold the tree upright -- but you can also gently lay the tree on its side, taking care not to break off any branches as they touch the ground.
Loosen any roots on trees grown in containers that are "root bound," meaning they're growing in a circle around the outside edge of the root ball. The National Gardening Association recommends snipping these roots away.
Lower the root ball into the hole and allow any smaller roots to spread out, taking care that no roots get pinched or turned backward on themselves.
Fill in the sides of the hole with the dirt you removed earlier, or scoop a few shovelfuls of compost into the hole in three or four locations. Your tree should sit at the same level in the ground as it was in its original location, meaning that the darker part of the trunk should be just at ground level. Don't place much dirt over the top of the root ball, if any at all.
Water the tree and surroundings thoroughly, allowing water to pool slightly on the surface before being absorbed into the ground.