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There are many things you can do to enhance the value and appearance of your home. One of the easiest, most affordable and most dramatic investments is landscaping with trees and shrubs. If you are in the market for a new tree or shrub, get it off to a good start by following a few basic guidelines.
Trees and shrubs come from the nursery as bare-root, balled and burlapped, or container-grown.
Fall and spring are the preferred planting times. The plantings then have time to adjust to their new location before the harsher weather of winter or summer arrives. You’ll also find a wider selection of plants in the garden centers at these times. When properly planted, B&B and container plants can be transplanted any time the soil is not frozen.
Dig the Hole
The old nurseryman’s saying, "dig a $40 hole for a $20 tree," is not just a cliché. To grow to their fullest potential, a new plant needs room, so now is not the time to cut corners.
For B&B and container-grown — dig a hole at least twice as wide as and no deeper than the root ball or container. The bottom of the hole should be flat.
A bare-root plant will need a smaller hole, but it still must be big enough so that the roots are not crowded.
Prep the Soil
Freshly planted trees and shrubs appreciate loose soil that drains well. Some recommend adding soil amendments — organic matter such as compost or dried manure — to the planting hole. However, the recent trend is to backfill the planting hole with the soil that was originally removed when digging the planting hole. The result will be a stronger root system.
If you wish to add fertilizer, mix it in at this time. Use an organic type, such as bone meal or a food specifically formulated for your plant. Roots are tender at this time, so take care not to burn them with too much fertilizer.
Never pick up a tree by the trunk — the tree can be damaged. Always lift by the root ball or container. Place the plant at the same level as it was in its container. Do not pile soil up on the trunk and DO NOT plant too deep. Turn the tree or shrub to face the desired direction.
Whether you have bare-root, B&B, or container-grown, avoid damaging the roots while planting.
Don't stop now, you're almost done. These last few steps can make the difference between success and failure:
Follow these steps and your new plant will be a beautiful and healthy addition to your landscape for years to come.