First, measure the height and width of the root ball. Add an extra foot to the width and subtract 2-3 inches from the height. This will be the size of the planting hole.
Dig Planting Hole
Dig the planting hole according to the measurements taken from STEP 1, approximately one foot wider than the root ball or pot and 2-3″ shallower than the root ball or pot depth.
Remove Bad Soil
Remove about 1/3 of the worst soil, usually the last 1/3 dug from the hole. Replace this portion of soil with compost.
Mix Soil, Compost & Starter
Mix the compost, remaining native soil and organic starter (i.e. Espoma Bio-tone Starter). Do not add fertilizer, it can burn roots on a newly planted tree or shrub.
Carefully Place Plant
Place the plant carefully in the hole so the top of the ball is slightly higher than the surrounding ground, approximately 2-3 inches higher in heavy clay soil.
Ensure Vertical Placement
Ensure plant is standing straight from at least two sides. Vertical placement is important before moving to Step 7.
If applicable, cut and loosen all twine around the base of the tree trunk. If plant is from container, loosen any tightly entwined roots. Do not move plant after this step.
Add Soil Mixture
Backfill with soil mixture and form saucer around the perimeter of the hole with excess soil. Do not place soil on top of the root ball.
Add a layer of mulch approximately 2”thick on top of soil mixture and root ball.
Apply Root Stimulator
Apply a water-soluble root stimulator such as Fertilome Root Stimulator. Do not apply granular chemical fertilizer for at least one year.
Root stimulators encourage the plant to grow roots instead of leaves, which allows it to take up more nutrients and water; this is crucial in the first year after planting.