Planting Trees & Shrubs

Before you dig be sure there are no underground utilities where you are going to dig. Call 811 to have the area marked to prevent damage. It’s the law. Always plant in a well-drained soil. Test your planting site for soil drainage by digging a hole the depth of your new plant and fill it with water. If the water doesn’t drain within 12 hours, the soil in that area will need to be amended with coarse sand, or gypsum and coarse compost to help with drainage.

The Planting Hole

To plant your tree or shrub, dig a hole 18 inches wider and no deeper than the root ball or container. When planting, back fill the hole using a 2/3 mixture of soil removed from the hole and 1/3 of a soil amendment such as peat moss. Once the plant is placed in the hole, the top of the root ball should be slightly above the surface of the ground.

Placing Your Plant In The Hole

Remove all tags and ropes from the stems or trunk and follow these guidelines.

Ball & Burlapped Plants

Keep the wire basket intact and DO NOT remove. Gradually lower the plant into the hole. Fill around the plant 3⁄4 of the way up the root ball. Firm soil as you backfill to remove any air pockets.

Make sure the plant is standing straight. Cut and remove burlap away from the top of the root ball as well as any rope from around the trunk. It is not necessary to remove the wire basket. Fill the remainder of the hole with amended soil to its original level.

Container Plants

Ease the pot off without disturbing the root ball. If the plant is root bound, you may need to cut the pot off using tin snips or a sharp knife. If the roots are compacted, use a knife to make two or three shallow cuts on the side and bottom of the root ball to loosen the roots. This does not hurt the roots but encourages them to grow out into the soil in their new home.

Enriching Your Soil & Backfilling

Create a mixture of enriched soil by combining 2/3 of the soil removed from the hole and 1/3 of a soil amendment such as peat moss. Use some excess soil to form a saucer around the outer edges of the hole to help retain water.


If you are unable to plant right away, water your plant thoroughly daily during warm weather.

During temperatures above 75 degrees water twice daily. After transplanting, water your newly planted tree or shrub thoroughly by using a slow, deep watering method encouraging wide-spread root development. Ball & Burlapped and container plant roots dry out faster than the soil around them. Even after significant rainfall it may be necessary to water thoroughly. It is imperative to monitor soil moisture of the root ball and to keep it moist but not water logged.

General Watering Guidelines:

Using a slow trickle from the end of the garden hose allows water to soak into the soil, instead of running off.

  • 1 and 2 gallon containers – slow trickle water for approx. 15-20 minutes
  • 3 and 5 gallon containers – slow trickle water for approx. 30-40 minutes
  • 7 and 10 gallon containers – slow trickle water for approx. 40-50 minutes
  • 15 gallon and larger B&B – slow trickle water for approx. 60-70 minutes

Remember, even if it rains for 1 hour, it probably did not adequately water a newly planted tree or shrub.


Add a two to three inch layer of shredded mulch around the base of the plant, staying a couple inches away from the trunk. This will prevent water loss and keep mowers and trimmers from damaging the plant. Avoid mounding overly deep mulch against the trunk or stem of the plant as this can promote disease or pest injury.

Hardwood bark mulch is ideal to help keep weeds under control, condition the soil and maintain soil moisture for healthy plant growth.


Unless you are planting in a high wind exposure location, staking is not recommended. If staking is necessary, connect the straps to the trunk with flexible lines and straps designed for this purpose. Do not over tighten the lines of straps thus allowing for some trunk movement. This will encourage strong root development. Remove the lines and straps after one growing season so you do not inhibit trunk development. Lines and straps left on too long can kill young trees.