Plant a Tree – Preparing the Hole

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 26,718
    Professional Horticulturist Mitch Baker from the American Plant Food Company breaks down what tools you will need to plant a new tree or shrub in the ground.

    Mitch Baker

    Mitch Baker is the Horticultural Specialist at the American Plant Food Co. Garden Center and Nursery, in Bethesda, MD, focusing on natural gardening products and organic gardening. Mitch is a MD Certified Professional Horticulturist, with 31 years of experience in the garden center industry. He has studied at numerous horticultural institutions from New York to Oregon, and also serves on the board of the Rachel Carson Council.

    Hi, I am Mitch Baker with American Plant Food Company. We are going to talk about the proper tools to plant that new tree or shrub in the ground. Everybody wants to grab one of the short D handle shovels because they look like they are convenient. Do yourself a favor, get a long handle shovel. It can be a round point shovel or it can be a flat bladed shovel, thats not so important, its the long handle that makes the difference. This gives you the leverage and the ability to work the soil well. The short shovels, way too much strain on the back. You are working way too hard. So, get yourself a long handle shovel, makes it so much easier, does a much better job of preparing the soil.

    Alright, were going to go ahead and mark off the area for soil preparation. The size of the hole is determined by the size of the plant that you are planting. So, basically we want to work up a soil area that might be twice as wide as the root ball, one-and-a-half times as deep. So, you dont want to just create a small hole and drop the plant in there, thats not adequate; twice as wide, one-and-a-half times as deep. So, were going to eyeball that. Now, you notice the shovel has a heel plate, thats what youre banging your foot on. Make sure you get a shovel that's got a heel plate. Then you want to turn that soil over and start breaking it up, loosening it. You want to reduce the size of the particle as small as you can, no big clumps, no big clods. You want to incorporate the top layer or top soil into the subsoil. You do all this before you add any of the amendments. Make sure you are wearing a proper pair of gloves also, save your hands. These are flexible, neoprene, semi-waterproof, no break in period, these will really help prevent the blisters. Now we have the proper size hole, we have turned that soil over one time, we have loosened it, we have broken up the large particles into smaller particles, now we are ready to add those soil amendments. So, we are going to start first with the composted blended soil amendment. We want to use a generous amount. We are going to incorporate this into the soil. This is that biologically active composted blended material. Then we are going to add some additional particle matter, the pine bark fines. Same thing, we are adding a generous amount to the planting area, incorporating it into the soil. Now, the end result is weve added material to the soil. So, we have added some bulk, we have actually raised the area. Thats a good thing. Thats what we want to do, creating a slightly raised mount. We have also added this great organic matter to the soil. Next step we are going to take out just the right amount of soil so that when we place the root ball in here, its at the proper depth.