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The next step after developing a landscape plan and selecting the recommended plants adaptive to your area is to buy good quality plants free from insects and diseases. Be sure to inspect them thoroughly because if you don’t already have a problem in the landscape then you certainly don’t want to introduce one at this stage in the landscape process.
People think plants can take care of themselves but giving them the best chance to survive and do well starts with the selection process and buying good quality plants.
The next step is the planting process. Some of the critical planting strategies may be ignored. In some cases, people are afraid what they have done will not be enough so they kill their plants with "overcare."
Before planting, one should first have in mind where the plant is to be located and know the purpose of the plant. Often this will determine how the plant should be planted. Consider the ultimate size and growth rate, shape, color, form and texture of the plants to be planted.
It is best to plant in large beds prepared by incorporating soil amendments such as lime, organic matter, or fertilizers as recommended from a soil test. Soil sampling boxes can be obtained from your local county extension offices. Once the bed is tilled, the plants can be planted into the bed. Follow these same steps on a smaller scale for single plantings or for small areas.
To plant the material, it will be necessary to knock the plants out of their containers. Cut on four sides of the root ball and loosen the roots so they can grow outward from the root ball instead of continuing in a circular fashion. Never plant too deep! The first roots of the plant should be just below the surface of the soil.
I recently dug up a cherry tree that was dead and the 25-foot tall tree with a 6-inch trunk diameter never had a chance to survive because the people that planted it dug the hole too deep and set the plant with the top of the root ball at least 20 inches below the surface. That is way too deep!
The cherry tree had roots growing straight up. Roots normally grow downward and then out from the tree toward the drip line of the tree’s canopy and beyond. In any case, plants deeper than four inches may die from root rot or suffocation. The idea is to have wide holes dug to receive the plant's root ball instead of narrow and deep holes.
Be sure to water the plants as they are being planted. Set the plant into place, fill with half of the backfill, water in, finish filling and then water again. Remember, it is better to have a unified blend of backfill. The mixing of the soil amendments is very important. Throwing a shovel full of organic matter or dumping fertilizers into the planting hole may do more harm than good.
Finish the planting by placing three to four inches of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help protect the newly planted materials and will conserve moisture and prevent weeds from developing. Do not build the mulch up around the base of the tree’s trunk. You do not want any volcano-like mulch piles around the base of the tree. Place no more than two inches at the base and you can have the mulch increase to a depth of three to four inches towards the outer edges of the circle of mulch around the tree.
For more management tips to ensure planting success, contact your local county cooperative extension service.