A Guide To Planting Trees And Shrubs

Simple steps and how to plant trees and shrubs in your yard.

Trees and shrubs purchased as nursery stock come in bare root, balled and burlapped, and container plants. Bare root plants are available in the late winter or spring only.

Choose healthy and sturdy plants. Know your merchandiser, making sure he is reliable and carries healthy stock. Do not hesitate to ask for recommendations and information.

Ask the Professional:

What soil is best for the plant?

Will it grow best in sun or shade?

Is it hardy in cold climates?

What is the best location for planting in a dry or damp area?

After acquiring the shrubs or trees, keep them moist and in an area out of the sun until time to plant. Your plants will come wrapped in a wet, loosely packed substance such as sphagnum when purchased from the nursery. If you plan to store the plants before planting, keep the packing moist but not too wet. Keep them in a cool dry place.

Times to Plant

The peak time to plant balled and burlapped trees and shrubs is in the fall. This gives the balled and burlapped plants a period to recuperate from the transplanting process and to begin rooting by springtime. The late winter, when plants are dormant, is the best time for planting bare root plants. Bare root plants include roses and fruit trees, as well as pecan trees.

Consider the Future

Plants and shrubs strategically planted around the home can add value and beauty; however, consider what impact a few years will bring. Small plants may be much larger than contemplated. Where you need sunlight, a large shrub, or tree can ultimately make too much shade. On the other hand, perhaps a plant can be too small to give enough shade where you wanted more. Understand what the future will bring with your shrubs and trees and plan carefully.

Planting the Trees and Shrubs

When digging the hole, the circumference should be enough to give the root system adequate room. Plan for at least 6 inches of space for the root structure around the plant, shrub, or tree. The hole should not be deeper than the root ball of the plant, because it needs to rest on a firm soil support.

Water drainage around the transplant is important. The soil should be filled in somewhat higher around the tree or shrub than the soil's normal level. Overtime the plant will position itself deeper into the soil and the rounded elevation of the soil around the tree or shrub will conform and settle.

Gently set the tree or shrub into the hole. Pick up the tree by the root ball and avoid handling it by the trunk, which could damage the tree.

Place soil into the hole around the tree or shrub. Use the indigenous soil removed from the hole without modification for big trees and shrubs. Tamp the soil around the plant as you backfill. Dislodge air pockets with a complete watering. The soil will then settle around the root ball. It is best to wait to fertilize until early spring. Avoid heavy usage of fertilizers, which may harm the roots.

After planting is completed, saturate the root ball and soil around the tree or shrub with water and afterwards at least every week or ten days. Take care not to over water the transplants as this can cause root rot. Add mulch up to 6 inches, around the bottom of the plants, to reduce weeds and hold moisture in the soil. Dry leaves, compost, or pine bark all make satisfactory mulch.

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