How To Prepare Ground For Planting Shrubs

Once you've bought a good plant, spend a little time and care giving it the start in life it deserves. The overall site and soil condition will already have been taken into account when buying your shrubs.

Prepare the ground beforehand by double digging and working rotted manure into the subsoil. At the same time remove all perennial weed roots. Keep any manure below root level if the top soil lacks humus fork in a 4- 6 inches layer of peat. When finished trample over the area to firm it again.

Planting container plants water the pot thoroughly beforehand to ensure the whole root ball and soil is moist. Dig a planting hole 4 inches wider than the container and deep enough for the surface of the root ball to finish at or below soil level. Check by standing the plant pot and  all in the hole.

Remove the container stand the plant in place and pack moist peat or a proprietary planting mixture around the ball of roots.

Fill the hole by breaking down the sides of the hole with a small fork. Tread the soil really firm with your foot but taking care not to scrape or damage the root ball.

Draw up a little loose soil around the plant to form a saucer and pour a bucket of water into it. A quick flush of water settles the soil around its roots. When soaked in re level the soil and spread a 2 inches thick mulch of  peat or bark for a distance of 18 inches around the shrub.

Planting bare rooted plants cut off any broken root ends and shorten any odd long wayward root. Soak  the roots for an hour in a bucket of water if they seem dry.

Dig a planting hole wide enough for the roots to be fully extended and deep enough for the plant to finish at the same level as before. Check with a cane placed across the hole against the old soil mark on the stem.

When the shrub is finally set in place spread out its roots and work moist peat or a planting mixture between them. Refill the hole with friable soil in layers, treading each one firm with the heel of your boot. Aim to keep the roots at their natural levels and not clamped together in the bottom of the hole.

Finally loosen the top inch of soil then water and mulch as above for container plants.