With the crazy weather we’ve been having, it’s hard to know when it is safe to plant trees and shrubs. A good rule of thumb to follow: if the ground is 60 degrees or warmer, then it’s safe to plant. Get busy deciding where and what you want to plant. We’ve put together some helpful tips, once you have made your final decisions.
- Check the site – You need to make sure the tree or shrub will have room to grow over the years. Take the time to scout out the area now so you don’t have to move or lose a bigger plant later, if it grows into overhead power lines.
- Inspect the soil – Determine the condition of the soil and if there is adequate drainage. While you’re doing that, check to see if the plant have enough light in this spot and will it be protected from the wind.
- Call before you dig – It is better to be safe than sorry, so call your local utility company and find out where underground lines may be hidden.
- Look at the root ball – That mass of roots circling the pot usually means the plant is pot bound. “Teasing” the roots or cutting the root ball will help them break free. It will keep the roots from “girdling” or strangling the tree or shrub later.
- Soak the root ball – A good soak before putting the plant in the ground will help hydrate the roots and wash off any contaminants that might be hiding in the potting soil.
- Set it free – Cut away any plastic or burlap holding the root ball together. Be sure to remove any wires or staples as well. Many of these materials will not disintegrate over time so don’t take the chance of restricting your plant’s growth.
- Think wide not deep – Dig your hole twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball. You need to keep the top of the root ball above the surrounding ground.
- Pack it down – Don’t leave loose dirt at the bottom of your hole. It will allow the tree/shrub to settle and can affect drainage around the tree/shrub.
- Put it in the ground – Position the tree in the hole and then check to see if it is level from several different views. Fill the hole with native soil instead of amended soil to avoid shocking the plant.
- Mulch – Put a 2-4″ thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree but avoid putting the mulch right up to the tree base. This can allow disease and pests to attack the roots.
Establish Trees & Shrubs with Life-Giving Water
Most gardeners do not realize that winter is actually a dry season for plants. Yes there is plenty of snow on the ground at the time but until it melts and the ground thaws the plants do not get the moisture they need. This is why if you decide to plant your trees or shrubs in the spring, you will need to make sure they get enough water to help them transition from the shock of planting. Give them a good soaking every couple of days but allow the top soil to dry out in between watering. It will help your plants become established and get them ready for the heat of summer. Don’t forget to give them extra water in the fall to prepare them for the “dry” winter.
Selecting a native plant will give it a better shot at surviving the long winter months and continuing to grow year round. Take a look at some of the trees and shrubs that are native to our hardiness zone (6a). Here are a few we like:
- Silver Maple
- Paw Paw
- Sweet Gum
- Leyland Cypress
- American Hemlock
- Sweet Shrub
- American Cranberry
Our expert staff is always on hand to help you with your yard and garden projects. From landscaping tools to augers and more, if you have any questions about what to choose, pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week. For more Spring gardening tips, check out our infographic, 11 Lawn & Garden Tips for Spring and our blog, 5 Ideas to Spruce Up Your Garden with New Plants.