How to Grow: Planting Shrubs


Frugal folks will enjoy the fact that, come fall, any trees and shrubs that you plan to plant are probably on sale at most garden stores and nurseries! And fall is the practical time to plant them, too, as the air is cool and the soil will stay warm enough for roots to start getting established.

The old way of doing this is dig a hole, put in the shrub, water it and be done. But his year, gardening experts have come forth with some new recommendations on how to plant your trees, including pruning the roots, to help ensure your tree or shrub lives a good, long life.

Once you have purchased your tree or shrub, take off the burlap, if there is any. Choose the location and dig a hole three times the diameter of the root ball and just about the same depth. Just put the soil you’ve dug off to the side — you’ll be using it again in a moment.

This new way may seem odd, but: Wash off the root ball with a garden house. The point of this is to help you see the tree or shrub’s root system. Sometimes, roots will grow around and around in circles and as they get older, get thicker and more tangled, literally strangling the plant. You want to loosen them and tease them out before planting.

Then, put the tree or shrub into the hole you’ve dug, and backfill with that same soil. No need to add fertilizer unless your soil is really bad. Keep watering as you’re backfilling and create a soupy, muddy mess. That’s what you want!

Keep it well-watered and add some mulch around the base. The roots will continue to grow right through November and be set for winter, and then they’ll grow more in the spring!

Excerpted from All Things Gardening on Vt Public Radio