Basic guidelines for planting, watering and mulching are outlined below. Be aware that each plant species may have unique planting and cultural requirements. For best success we strongly recommend researching the specific requirements of the plant species you are working with and seeking advice from a nursery professional to ensure appropriate measures are being taken. Soil testing and selecting appropriate plants to match your site are also strongly recommended.
Step 1- Identify the Root Flare (For Trees): The root flare is the broadening of the trunk located at the base of the plant near the root/stem interface. It is important to identify the root flare prior to planting as it indicates where the root system begins and provides a guide for proper planting depth. The base of the root flare should be positioned at the soil surface. Occasionally during mechanical digging the root flare is buried several inches beneath the soil within the root-ball. The accumulation of soil against the trunk can be detrimental and must be removed prior to planting.
Step 2 - Measure Root-Ball Size: Measure the height and width of the root-ball to aid in the determination of approximate hole depth and width. Depth should be determined based on a measurement from the base of the root flare to the bottom of the root-ball.
Step 3 - Hole Preparation: Dig the hole, making sure it’s no deeper than the height of the root-ball. Take care to limit disturbance of the soil in the bottom of the hole as this can cause the root-ball to settle leading to improper planting depth. The hole should be dug approximately twice as wide as the diameter of the root-ball.
Step 4 - Planting:
Container Plants: Carefully remove the plant from its container and inspect the root-ball for circling and matted roots. The roots should be loosened and teased apart to facilitate growth into the surrounding soil. The base of the root flare should be level to or slightly above the soil line.
Balled and Burlapped Plants: Move the plant into the hole with the burlap intact. If there is a wire cage on the plant it should also be left on. Once in the hole and at the appropriate depth, stabilize the plant by covering half the root-ball with soil. The burlap, twine, wire cage and other material on the upper half of the root-ball can then be cut-off and removed. Burlap and other material on the bottom half of the plant should be left intact, as it will break down naturally in time.
Once plants are positioned properly, the hole can be back filled being sure to tamp down the soil to eliminate air pockets and ensure proper root-soil contact. Though amendments can be added at this time we recommend treading lightly and basing supplements off of soil test results, the specific needs of your plant species and nursery professional recommendations.
Step 5 - Watering: Thoroughly water the plant. The initial watering event should be sufficient to ensure that the root-ball is well moistened and that any air pockets are removed. Typically, the first watering event is notably deeper than subsequent watering events will be. During the first growing season it is especially important to monitor and maintain the watering needs of your plant. Good watering techniques involve monitoring soil moisture regularly while adjusting the supply of water to match weather patterns, growth and the specific needs of your plant. In general, it is better to water deeply, less frequently rather than a little bit each day. Overwatering can be just as detrimental as under watering.
Step 6 - Mulching: Mulch can be as important to the health of a plant as watering. Mulch can help regulate soil temperatures, retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and add organic matter to the soil. We recommend mulching with a 2-3“ layer of aged pine bark. Care should be taken to ensure the mulch is not piled up against the trunk. Mulch piled against the trunk can harbor pests and excess moisture that can lead to plant decline.