Tree Installations

Years ago, horticulturists recommended that the hole, for installing new trees
and shrubs, be at least twice as large as the size of the container/root system of
the plant going in to the hole. The latest recommendations call for a hole to be
approximately the same size as the container/root system of the plant going in
to the hole. This technique helps eliminate a transition zone and makes it easier
for new roots to become established in the native soil.
Years ago those same horticulturists recommended that, when finished planting,
the surface of the container/root system should be at grade level with the area
around the tree and/or shrub. Nowadays it is highly recommended that trees
and shrubs be planted higher in the hole to allow for settling. Also, when digging the planting hole do not dig too
deeply, disturbing the soil on the bottom of the hole. This can also result in settling.
Old-school recommendations also included amending the backfill with organic matter. This practice is under
scrutiny and now, many horticulture professionals only use native materials to backfill the planting hole.
The finished installation should result in the surface of the container/root system approximately 6” – 8” above
grade level. Use remaining backfill to construct a water-holding reservoir around the outer circumference of the
plants root system.
Watering before, during and after installation is of crucial importance in successfully establishing newly planted
trees and shrubs in the landscape.
Before – Make sure plants/containers are thoroughly watered before beginning the planting process.
During – When the containerized root system is placed in to the planting hole, fill the hole approximately ½ full
with water.
After – Backfill the hole and slowly apply water until the planting reservoir is filled. Wait until the water percolates
in to the soil and re-apply water until the reservoir fills again. Repeat this process until water stands in the
Planting trees and shrubs requires a combination of art and science unique to landscape installation. Following
these basic guidelines will help get plants off to a good start and ensure long-term success for years to come.

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