Garden Plants and Shrubs – Preparing for Planting
Garden Plants and Shrubs
Preparing the Ground for Planting
Dig over thethoroughly to one spade’s depth, removing perennial such as bindweed. Fork bonemeal into the topsoil at the rate of 130g per sq m (4 oz per sq yd), then allow the soil to settle for about two weeks. Just before planting, firm the bed thoroughly by treading the soil down.
Mark out with sticks where the shrubs are to go. The space between two shrubs should be at least half the sum of their ultimate spreads.
Next, remove one of the markers and dig a hole as deep as, and slightly wider than, the shrub’s container or root-ball; it mustn’t be too deep or too narrow.
Make up a planting soil mixture in a wheelbarrow by mixing the soil from the hole with organic material such as well-rotted garden or manure. An ideal mixture is two parts soil to one part organic material. Finally, water container-grown plants thoroughly just before planting.
Planting Garden Plants and Shrubs
Check the hole for depth by inserting the container or root ball. With a container shrub, the surface of the compost should be level with that of the surrounding soil, or just below it. With a balled-root or bare-root shrub the mark indicating the old soil level on the stem should be level with the surface of the surrounding soil; set a board or cane across the top of the hole to gauge the correct planting depth. Check that the hole is wide enough to allow the roots of your garden plants and shrubs to spread out evenly. Break up the soil at the base of the hole with a fork, then add 7.5-10cm (3-4in) of the prepared soil mixture.
Check the garden plants and shrubs for any damaged or diseased top growth. Trim back any such stems, cutting just above a bud with secateurs.
Remove the container or hessian wrapping from the shrub and check the root system — be very careful not to break up the soil ball. If the container-grown shrub has a poor root system, return it to the nursery; if the roots are tangled or encircle the soil, carefully cut them away, but do not break up the soil ball. With a bare-root shrub, cut back any damaged or diseased roots with secateurs to healthy growth.
Hold the garden plants and shrubs by the base of their stems and place into the hole. With a balled-root or container shrub, fill in the hole with the prepared soil mixture. Tread it in firmly, top up with more soil, and tread again. After planting, leave a shallow basin round the plant for water retention.
With a bare-root shrub, put the plant in the hole and work in a couple of trowels of prepared soil mixture around the roots. Shake the roots gently so that the soil settles around them. Add a little more planting mixture and firm the soil around the plant. Fill up with more soil and firm again to eliminate air pockets. Lastly, dome the soil slightly around the stem and leave a shallow water-retaining basin.
Water the soil around the new plant thoroughly. In summer, water regularly and liberally during dry weather to prevent the roots drying out.
Planting Between Garden Plants and Shrubs
Avoid the unattractive bare patches left between correctly-spaced new shrub plants by filling in with. They can then be moved when the shrubs grow and spread.
Most ornamental trees are sold at three to four years old. The ideal planting season is late autumn to spring for deciduous types, mid spring for evergreens including conifers. Container-grown trees can be planted at any time.
Follow the planting procedures outlined for garden plants and shrubs, but make the planting hole at least 45cm (18in) deep and some 90cm (3ft) across. If the tree is intended as a lawn specimen, use the turfs to fill in the hole; keep the surface area free of grass for a few years.
A young tree needs staking until the roots take firm hold. With a mallet, hammer a stout wooden stake in the hole before planting. When the hole has been filled in, tie the tree to the stake using a tree strap made from plastic or webbing and with rubber buffers that act as a cushion between tree and stake. Fasten the strap against the stake.