Planting Trees and Shrubs
- Dig a hole about 2 times as wide as the nursery container and as deep. For 15-gallon or larger trees or shrubs, dig a hole 48 inches in diameter. Be sure that the sides of the hole are fairly vertical and that they have been roughened to allow root penetration.
- Remove tree or shrub from container just prior to planting to minimize the time roots are exposed to air. Try to move plants by the root ball rather than by the trunk. Roots circling the outside of the root ball should be cut 2 inches deep in 4 to 5 places around the circumference or disentangled with a claw tool. Roots matted on the bottom of the root ball should be cut off with pruners.
- Apply recommended rate of Master Nursery Master Start to bottom of hole. Scrape in lightly. Set the root ball of tree or shrub at the bottom of the hole. Make sure the top surface of root ball is one-half to one inch higher than the natural soil grade.
- Fill the hole around the root ball with the soil you removed in step one amended with one-third Master Nursery Gold Rush or Master Nursery Bumper Crop. If native soil contains large rocks, remove them. Break up any large clods and mix them with the amendment. Firm the soil around the root ball. Be sure not to cover the top of the root ball.
- Mound remaining soil into a 4 inch berm around the edge of the planting hole. Fill this basin around the tree or shrub to thoroughly wet and settle soil. Repeat until water stops bubbling.
- Place a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch such as Master Nursery Forest Blend or Master Nursery Forest Bark, between the tree trunk and the drip line throughout the basin. Be sure to keep away from trunk. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil and control weeds. Keep turf grasses at least 24 inches away from the trunk or outside of basin, whichever is greater.
- If you are planting a tree, remove any stake that is next to the trunk. Re-stake your tree only if it cannot support itself. Use two stakes and place them 18 inches away from the trunk on either side to support the tree against wind. This prevents the trunk or branches from rubbing against the stake and also allows symmetrical branching.
As trees and shrubs grow, they will continue to need your care and attention. Take time to notice changes and be mindful of the following tips:
- Trees and shrubs have different watering requirements than lawns, perennials or vegetables. When first planted, trees and shrubs typically need frequent watering. Check the soil at a depth of 2 to 3 inches and within 1 or 2 inches of the tree trunk before watering. If it’s dry, water thoroughly by filling the basin and repeating if necessary. A tree will grow more quickly when watered weekly for the first year and then every two weeks after the third or fourth year.
- Consult a Wegman’s Nursery professional about fertilizer requirements for the tree or shrub you’re planting. As a general rule, deciduous trees and shrubs are fertilized twice a year (Memorial Day and Labor Day) with Master Nursery Tree & Vine Fertilizer.
- Prune to shape your tree or shrub’s growth and keep it healthy. Look for the ‘branch collar’ or swelling at the base of the limb you want to remove. Cut the branch back to the parent limb just outside the collar. As the collar provides the means for the tree to heal the pruning cut, cutting too far away from it, into it or removing it with the branch impairs the tree’s ability to heal. You can render your tree susceptible to fungus, bacteria and insects by poor pruning practices.
- To learn more about pruning, consult any basic guidebook such as Ortho’s All About Pruning or Sunset’s Pruning Handbook.
Adapted from Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Sacramento Tree Foundation, 1996