Planting Trees and Shrubs

locally-grown perennials, shrubs, trees, and evergreensWe want you to enjoy your newly purchased trees and shrubs. Follow these recommended practices for best success.

  1. Site selection: Be sure to select a location that has the right light and water requirements for the plant you have chosen. Also be sure you are allowing enough room for the mature size of the plant.
  2. Digging the hole: The hole size should be twice as wide as the original pot the plant came in and about one and a half times as deep. This ensures that the soil is properly loosened in all directions so the roots can grow more easily. Gently massaging the root ball of the plant before planting it will also aid in the process.
  3. Soil preparation: This is the most important step! It is so crucial to the plants growth and mistakes are hard to remedy once the tree or shrub is planted. You should mix organic compost with the original soil from the hole at a ratio of 1:1 (one part original soil to one part compost.) The compost will increase the nutrient content and water holding capability of your soil. NEVER use potting soil or peat moss.
    Espoma fertilizers and soil amendments

    We carry Espoma and Daddy Pete’s fertilizers and soil amendments

    In more compacted clay soils, you should also add Organic Soil Conditioner to the mix to improve aeration and drainage. Use a 1:1:1 ratio of original soil to compost to soil conditioner. Lastly, you should add Bio-Tone Plus with beneficial microbes and organic fertilizer in it. The soil is “alive” with beneficial bacteria and microbes that actually help plants feed. Their levels get diminished by things like synthetic fertilizer use and earth moving that takes place from new construction. It is so important to encourage these microbes by using organic soil amendments and fertilizers.

  4. Placing the plant in the hole: As mentioned above, you should gently massage the root ball before placing it in the hole to get the roots out of the “pot” pattern they are growing in. Back fill the hole partially with the mix you prepared above, about 1/3 to 1/2 the way full. Place the tree or shrub into the hole. The top of the root ball should be even with the ground; if it is too low, remove the plant and add more soil underneath until it is level. Once level, continue to fill the hole around the root ball with the rest of the soil mix. Gently tamp the soil around the root ball as you go to ensure that there are no large air pockets left in the soil. Once the hole is filled, water the plant immediately to help settle the dirt and cover the top with about a 1/2″ of mulch. When you are finished, there shouldn’t be any soil or mulch directly touching the stem or trunk of the plant; that could lead to rotting.
  5. After care: For the first year after it’s planted, you should monitor your tree or shrub closely. The amount of water you need to give it can depend on the type of plant it is and the time of year that it is being planted.

Remember that these are generalized instructions that apply in most cases. Feel free to consult our staff any time to get more specific planting and care instructions for plants you purchase from us.