Planting Guidelines

Essential Information for Planting Success

Plants are an investment and we want you to be successful in your planting endeavors. Be rewarded for your hard work by following these important steps. And remember, if your plant is not performing to your expectations, please contact us at the first sign of distress rather than when it is too late for us to offer advice that could save your plant.

Know Your Planting Conditions

Pick the right plants. Knowing the mature size of a plant is necessary when planning your installation. Selecting a plant that gets larger than the area you have in mind will lead to maintenance issues, safety hazards and can often be unsightly. It’s also important to take the sun exposure of the planned area into consideration. Be certain the plants you select thrive in the exposure they will be receiving. Group plants with similar watering needs to ease maintenance.

Prepare The Soil

To be safe, test your soil’s pH. A pH of 6.5-7 is typically preferred. To lower the pH of your soil, incorporate aluminum sulfate. To increase the pH of your soil, incorporate ground limestone. Amend heavy-clay and sandy soils that possess undesirable drainage. We recommend mixing 2/3 existing soil with 1/3 planting mix that is high in organic matter. This will help create a better soil structure, with improved drainage. When digging the hole, it should be twice as wide, but equal depth of the root ball. Make sure the bottom of the hole is packed down, so the plant doesn’t settle at a lower depth over time. Your plant should sit flush with the soil surface or slightly above. Planting too low will lead to a decline in the plant’s root health and could eventually result in death. Planting too high is not a good idea either, leading to a weaker, less stable plant. Since most plant roots grow horizontal rather than vertical, digging the hole twice as wide will loosening the soil surrounding the root ball for easier root establishment.



Remove the plant from the container.

Gently loosen roots all the way around the sides and bottom of the root ball. Typically your hands can do the trick, however a soil knife can be used if needed.

Place the plant in the hole, flush with the surrounding soil or just slightly above.


Place the plant in the hole, flush with the surrounding soil or just slightly above.

Remove twine and pull the burlap away from the trunk at least below the soil surface. You do not need to entirely remove the burlap, and we actually encourage you don’t, it will break down in the soil over time.

Backfill the hole with the existing or amended soil and cover the top of the root ball with 1/2” of soil and pack down firmly.

Give the plant a good soaking. Slow-dripping water over the base of the plant is best. Let it soak in deep. Use Ferti-lome® Root Stimulator & Plant Starter Solution to help roots establish quickly and reduce transplant shock.

Apply a layer of mulch 2” deep around the base of the plant. Taper mulch at least 1-2” away from the trunk to avoid pests and excessive moisture.

Sustain and Maintain


We highly recommend giving all young trees (6” caliper or less) a deer guard to protect their trunks from deer antler rubs and other wildlife injuries.

If your new tree has a dense crown of leaves that is un-proportional to the root system, or is in a windy area, it may benefit from staking. Staking these plants will allow their root systems to properly establish without the root ball moving around too much in the soil. Don’t think just because your plant is young, with an unestablished root system that it needs to be staked. Trunk movement actually encourages root growth and development. It’s only recommended to stake if necessary.


Keep the soil around the base of you new planting moist-not wet, not dry. Weather, soil type and plant selection are all factors that determine watering requirements. We recommend giving new plants a good soak at least once a week, but more often during hot, dry periods. Continue watering from time to time during their first 1-2 years of being installed. Even well-established plants benefit from supplemental irrigation during hot, dry periods. Over-watering can cause just as much damage as under-watering. When in doubt, feel your soil to check moisture. If it seems moist, you don’t need to water, if it feels dry, thoroughly water.

PRUNING Pruning out dead, diseased and damaged branches is encouraged anytime of the year. Evergreens should be pruned in mid-winter, around January. Doing so during this time minimizes sap flow. Deciduous trees are best pruned in late winter, around February. This allows one to see all of the branching while making structural cuts without leaves obstructing views. Deciduous shrubs should be pruned according to their bloom time. Shrubs that bloom in the spring should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Shrubs that bloom after spring should be pruned in late fall or early spring right before new growth starts to emerge.
FERTILIZE We do not recommend fertilizing new plants until the second growing season. Excessive growth in the first season can’t be supported by the newly establishing root system. You can (and should), however, apply a root stimulator to your new planting immediately after installed to encourage a faster root establishment while minimizing transplanting shock.