Plant Care

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Sardara, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Sardara

    Sardara LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Shopping for a new tree or shrub from a gardening center is an exciting experience. All of the different possibilities in size, form, leaf appearance and flower color can make your garden, landscape and imagination run wild. But after you have made your selection, had your plant loaded up and transported safely home, there’s some work to do! Careful garden planting practices will ensure that the newest member of your garden family gets established quickly and comfortably into your landscape.

    Today, nursery and greenhouse plants can come in several ways. Burlaped root ball, plastic containers, or bare root are all methods of supplying nursery plants depending on the size and type of the plant as well as the gardening season. The following instructions are appropriate for balled and burlap (B&B) and container plantings, all the way from a little 2 inch geranium pot to a 20 foot maple tree.

    Step 1 Preparing Hole and Soil
    Measure twice, cut once. The planting hole size is one of the most important aspects of transplanting successfully, so before you get our your shovel, get out a tape measure. The hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball and a little deeper than the root ball is tall. Ultimately, you want the top of the root ball to be level with the garden ground. With smaller plants, it is well and good to put the plant in the hole to check your progress while digging. With large trees this may not be possible, so get our your tape measure!

    While digging, place soil in wheelbarrow or on tarp for easier mixing and back-filling. When the hole is dug to the correct width and depth, begin mixing new soil into the old garden soil. Add 1/3 new topsoil and 1/3 peat moss to 1/3 of the old soil (you will have old soil left over, think of a place to put it before digging, perhaps a low spot in the lawn, landscape or on the compost pile). Mix the soil thoroughly but carefully as peat moss tends to blow around. Adding a bit of water to the mixture can help this, but avoid adding too much because it will make the garden soil too heavy to back-fill properly. Place some of this garden soil mix in the bottom of the hole so that when root ball is placed in the hole, the top of the ball will be about 1 inch above final landscape grade. This procedure allows for settling of freshly dug garden soil. Before back-filling, make certain the planting level is correct.

    Step 2 Placement in Garden and Preparing Root ball
    If the plant is in a plastic container, remove the plant from the container and slice the root ball vertically 1 inch deep with a knife in 3 to 4 places. Firm the soil in the bottom of the hole and place plant in the hole. Be sure to take a good look at the plant to identify which side or face of the plant is the nicest and orient that face in the direction that gets the most attention. Avoid pulling on any branches when adjusting the position of the plant in the garden, grip the plant by the root ball. (On larger trees, keep the orientation of the tree in mind before setting the tree in the hole as later adjustment may be difficult).

    Only after the plant is in the hole and oriented correctly in your landscape can you begin removing cord and burlap. All twine on the top of the root ball should be removed, especially around the trunk. The cloth burlap should be removed from around the trunk. Take care not to nick the trunk if using a knife to cut the twine and burlap. The excess cloth burlap can remain in the garden hole if tucked around the side of the root ball. After back-filling, no cloth burlap should remain exposed in the landscape. On large trees or heavy root balls, a metal cage may be in place help keep the root ball intact. This should not be removed.

    Step 3 Back-filling
    Fill the hole halfway with gardening soil. Press the soil in with hands. Tamp firmly, but not too firmly. The goal is not compaction but simply the elimination of air pockets. Add remaining garden soil to the top of the surrounding surface and tamp one last time. If the hole was dug to the proper depth, the garden soil will fill the sides around the root ball and come up to level landscape. No gardening soil should go on top of the root ball. This is one of the most common mistakes in planting. The only thing that should go on top of the root ball is organic mulch (wood chips, shredded bark).

    Step 4 Watering
    Garden plants should be watered gently but deeply immediately after planting into your landscape. New plants should then be watered once every day for the first week, then twice a week through the remainder of the growing season. A thorough soaking at these intervals is far more effective than light and frequent watering from sprinklers or irrigation systems. A good simple method is to place a garden hose without any attachments a few inches from the trunk. Water should flow at a very slow trickle as this will allow water to sink into the roots without running off. Allow water to flow for one hour depending on the size of the plant. Do not use a forceful stream of water as this can cause garden soil structure to break down and become hard-baked when dry.

    Keep it Green!



  2. Landscape Poet

    Landscape Poet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,638

    Good insight - but IMHO you forgot one of the most important things. "Right Plant, Right Place". You must know if the plant you are selecting is going to work in the location you are planning to put it. Is the soil the correct PH, is the soil going to give the right amount of water retention, is the plant going to get the appropriate amount of sun each day. Are you planting the plant in a area in which it is known to have a large potential for pest or is the area you are planning on putting it going to stress the plant and attract the pest.
    Again - Just my humble opinion
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010

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