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Deciduous: Planting Care for New Plants

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 4 months ago


Deciduous: Planting Care for New Plants

PSU Solution Source (7004)

The first two years after planting is a crucial time in the life of landscape trees and shrubs.  If you plant and care for them properly, they should establish themselves within a few years.

Always handle plants carefully before you plant them.  Keep the roots moist, and avoid picking plants up or carrying them by the trunk or stems.  Instead, pick up and carry the plant by the pot or burlapped root ball.

Pay close attention to planting depth.  Look at the trunk or stems closely for the nursery soil line or root flare (showing the very top of the anchor roots). This line indicates how deep to set the plant.  If in doubt, set the plant a bit on the high side, because it will settle over time.  Just make sure there are no roots protruding from the soil surface.

You do not need to fertilize at planting or during the first year. However, special slow-release fertilizer packets and pills are available, and you can place these in the planting hole.

Once the plant is in the ground, water thoroughly and allow it to soak in slowly. You can use the soil left over from planting to form a water-holding dish around the trunk or stem.

Mulch your new tree or shrub right after you water it.  Apply a two- to three-inch layer of shredded bark or wood chips in a three- to four-foot diameter circle at the plant's base.  Shredded bark and wood chips are ideal mulches for landscape plants.  Keep mulch off the trunk!

As the plant grows, so should the mulched area. Root systems of established trees and shrubs extend as far or farther than the branches.

An organic mulch layer helps conserve soil moisture, moderates soil temperature, prevents weed growth and keeps competitive lawn grass away.  Mulch also reduces soil compaction, eliminates the need to bring lawn mowers and weed whips close to young trunks and stems, and gives your landscape a finished, professional appearance.

Contrary to older recommendations, new trees and shrubs do not need major pruning when planted. In fact, it is best not to prune any more than necessary for the first three years or so.  Remove only dead or broken branches, and any branches that are touching or rubbing against each other.  Remove the long, straight suckers and water sprouts that grow on flowering crabs, hawthorns, linden, and certain other trees.

Pruning out too many live branches the first few years may prevent trees and shrubs from establishing quickly. One exception to this is a clipped hedge. You should cut hedge plants back when you plant them to stimulate growth from the base.

The most important thing to do after you have planted, watered, mulched, and pruned your plant is to water properly during the first growing season. The old guideline said to water new trees and shrubs every week to ten days for the first growing season. This does not take weather, soil conditions, and mulching into account.

It is better to check the soil's moisture an inch or two below the soil surface regularly during the first season, and water only when the soil is beginning to dry out. This may be fairly often on well-drained soils, especially during hot, dry weather.

On the other hand, clay soils often drain poorly, and hold water for a long time. Watering once a week may keep clay soils too wet for weeks at a time. Too much soil moisture can do just as much damage to plants as too little.


For more information on this subject, Please visit the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Web site.


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