Do You Know How to Properly Plant Trees and Shrubs?

— Written By Bill Hanlin and last updated by JoAnne Gryder

Planting-Trees-41Spring is an exciting time for gardeners because new trees and shrubs are being planted in the landscape. Homeowners can choose from bare root, containerized, or ball and burlap plants to add that special touch to the landscape. In order to make sure the plant survives and is the best plant possible, certain planting techniques should be used.

Holes that are dug for your plants should be at least twice the size of the plant’s root ball. Also, realize that holes dug in our heavy clay soils will often have a glazed effect on the sides of the holes. If the hole looks like the inside of a clay pot then the sides need to be scarred to encourage root penetration.

Make sure the plant is planted at the proper depth. Planting too deep may lead to root suffocation and a poorly growing plant. If the graft union on dwarf and semi-dwarf trees is buried below the soil line then the tree will send out roots above the graft and the tree will end up being a full size tree. So make sure the graft union is 2 to 3 inches above the soil after planting.

Closely inspect the root system of plants that have been grown in containers or plastic pots. Plants that have been in containers for a while may have the root system growing in circles, which is a condition called pot bound. You must break up the pot bound roots or they will continue to grow in circles and the plant will suffer.

Natural burlap can be left around the roots when putting in balled and burlap plants. However if the burlap is synthetic, it will not decompose like natural burlap and it needs to be removed prior to planting. You can tell the difference by trying to light the burlap with a match. Natural burlap will burn while synthetic burlap will melt 

Finally, you may need to do a little pruning after the plant is in the ground. Ball and burlap plants may lose a significant portion of their roots during digging. Breaking up pot bound rots will also result in the loss of part of the root system. Pruning the plant will help restore a balance between the root system and the top of the plant, resulting in a healthier plant.