Planting some trees or shrubs? Here are Zocalo’s tips for giving them a solid start.
Prepare the planting location by digging the soil at least twice the diameter of the nursery pot or plant root ball and about one and a half times the depth of the nursery pot or root ball. This will allow the plant roots to spread outward.
Once you have the hole dug, add lots of organic matter such as compost, manure and good quality top soil. Stir in a few handfuls of bonemeal to aid in root development. How much bonemeal? As a general rule, add one handful for every foot of height or spread (whichever is greater) at the time of planting.
Set the tree of shrub into the planting hole to check its planting depth. Remove the tree and add or remove the soil mixture so that the tree or shrub plant crown (where the stem joins the roots) will be sitting at soil level, with its trunk vertical to the ground.
Do not use your foot to tamp in soil around root mass. Instead, work the soil mixture into the roots with your fists to ensure good contact and fewer air pockets. Top up the soil mixture as necessary. Ensure there is good slope and drainage away from the base of the plant. This will prevent root and crown rot and encourage root growth into the soil mixture. Water until the soil is evenly wet. Newly planted trees and shrubs should be watered regularly. Every 7-10 days should be sufficient (weather dependent). To encourage strong and deep root growth remember this rule – “Water Deeply, Not Daily“.
DO NOT APPLY MULCH FOR THE FIRST SEASON OF GROWTH. Mulches (both bark and rock, can be applied around the plant but an area of about 30cm (1 foot) should remain open around the plant stem or trunk. This will allow the roots to receive proper air ciurculation and moisture. Bonemeal applied at the time of planting should be suifficient for the first season of growth. In consecutive growing seasons, your tree or shrub can be fertilized with a balanced product such as 20-20-20 (what does this mean?) until the end of July. Do not apply amendments after this time to ensure plants have time to harden off new growth before the colder weather.
Trees that are planted properly are less likely to rot, less susceptible to diseases, and are more likely to have a longer, healthier life. Plus, they look happier. Heed the tips and watch it grow.