Tree & Shrub Planting Guide

  • The hole should be about 50% larger than the width of the root ball.  The depth of the hole should not be deeper than the height of the root ball.
  • When planting container grown nursery stock, use a clean sharp knife and slightly cut the root ball.  Loosen the root ball (cut the roots vertically, tickle the root ball) approximately ¼ inch deep at intervals of 1-2 inches.  This will encourage the roots to expand into the new planting area.  Otherwise the roots may simply grow in circles in the planting zone.
  • Field grown plants are normally wrapped in burlap and larger plants may be enclosed in a wire cage for support.  When planting leave the burlap in place except at the top, (remove any rope/twine wrapped around the trunk and burlap at the top of the ball only.  The wire cage can be left in place since it maintains the integrity of the root ball during transplanting and the roots will grow through the burlap and wire cage.
  • Make sure the bark on the trunk of the plant is not covered by soil or mulch.  If the bark is covered it may start to rot and the plant will die.  It is better to plant higher than lower in our clay soils because water has a tendency to pool.
  • We recommend amending the soil with compost.  Thoroughly blend compost with the existing soil at a rate of one to one.  Our soil is deficient in nourishment because of the high content of rock and clay.  Peat moss or topsoil will not aid in the success of the planting.
  • Avoid the use of commercial fertilizers on the plants for the first year after planting.  Most commercial fertilizers have a high salt content, which can easily burn the roots of the plant.  Sometimes an organic fertilizer will help stimulate growth.
  • Create a moat around the base of the plant about one foot for smaller plantings and up to four feet for larger trees.  This moat will help in natural water retention and extra reservoir during drought conditions.
  • Mulch the moat area with mulch to aid in water retention.  Do not create a pyramid going up the base of the plant.