Planting A Bare Root Tree Or Shrub

Plant a bare root tree or shrub. Do you know what kind and how? This article will help.

When planting a bare-root tree or shrub a few years ago most would just remove all the soil from a deeply dug hole, discard it, and then bring in new soil. Lots of research has shown that a tree will make a better adjustment to the new environment if it must use the soil in the new planting area. It has been shown that tree roots that will be absorbing the most moisture are only about eighteen inches deep and are in a very wide circle.

I usually dig the entire hole several days before planting the bare-root tree or shrub for two very important reasons. First of all the tree can develop fatigue if it has been dug from one area and then just laid out on the ground. By digging the new hole several days ahead of time you will be able to just slip the bare-root tree of shrub into the new hole. The second reason is that I like the fill the new hole with water several times before planting as this will presoak the ground and moisture will be there already, deep into the soil.

I always dig a wide, shallow hole with straight sides and a flat bottom. I then build a hill like area inside the hole that is wide enough to let all of the roots over the hill. This hill needs to be high enough so that the trunk will be at the same level with the soil surface as it was at the nursery or at another area of the site. If you will look carefully at the trunk of the plant you will see a dark mark on the truck and use this measurement. Put all the soil from the hole in a pile perhaps on a tarp, then mix two thirds of the soil with sphagnum peatmoss, compost, or weathered manure. This organic matter will give the plant a lifetime supply of aeration if the soil is clay, and water-holding capacity if it is sandy. It will break down slowly and provide nutrition. You will be able to take at least one third of the soil from the hole and put in another area of your property.



You will need to spread the roots over this hill and make sure none are crossed or broken. Make the roots about the same length by cutting them. Do not twist the roots as this chokes out the root and it will die eventually. Fill the hole about halfway with dirt before you run the hose to water. This means you will be eliminating air pockets. Now finish putting the soil into the hole and water very slowly. I always put a mulch of dried grass clippings on top of the soil as this keeps the soil at an even temperature and it will hold the moisture much better than without the mulch.

I would think waiting about two weeks before watering would be sufficient. If you put a long stick down into the soil and it shoves in easily, then there is no need to water.

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