These instructions are for planting trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
- Enrich the soil. Dig the bed deeply until the soil is loosened. Remove any weeds or grass. Add composted manure and topsoil to the bed. If your soil is poor, the plants will not thrive. Enrich your soil for success!
- Dig a deep hole with a spade (not a trowel) and add some composted manure to the hole. Mix. Then place your plant in and refill the hole, keeping the top of the plant’s rootball at the same level as the surrounding soil. (For trees and shrubs especially: If the roots are tangled up tightly on the bottom of the pot, loosen the roots so they are hanging down like hair before planting. It is better to break some than to leave them compacted — the roots won’t extend into the soil properly and the plant will die. Also cut any roots that are encircling the root ball on the sides — these will girdle the plant as it grows larger and kill it.)
- Water right away after planting. Water by putting the hose right where the plant meets the ground, so that water pools on the dirt. (That is, do not water by misting or spraying the leaves.) If the water runs off, make a ring of dirt around the plant to hold the water close until it seeps in.
- When done planting, mulch the bed with crushed leaves, wood chips, pine bark, whatever you like.
- Water deeply when you water. Water once a day for a week, once a week for a month, once a month for a year. During drought, water once a week, deeply.
- Keep your bed mulched year after year to keep weeds away. The mulch will fertilize the soil and plants as it decomposes, help your plants retain moisture, and keep their roots cool in the hot summers and warm in the winter.
TOP 2 Beginner Mistakes that prevent success:
- “Dig a tiny, shallow hole, plunk plant in.” Plants’ roots need room to grow, and they need the soil loosened. Plants need nutrients, in the form of compost, composted manure, or leaf gro. Use a spade (not a trowel) to dig a nice deep hole, and add compost when planting.
- “Watering means spraying the leaves.” Plants absorb water through their roots, not their leaves. Water with a hose, without a spray attachment, by placing a hose right at the ground where the leaves meet the dirt. Watch the water soak into the ground or build a ring of soil to keep it from running off.