You should be ready to plant now. Follow the directions on the plant label, if provided. Use a shovel or hand trowel to dig holes.

Use a shovel to dig holes

Clean-up, mulch, and water when done. The following are general instructions for different types of plants:

Balled and burlapped plants

You should remove the burlap and wire basket (if the plant has one); however, you want to remove it in the hole because otherwise the ball may fall apart before it is placed in the hole. The preferred method is to cut out the bottom of the basket and burlap so it comes out easily after the plant is in.

Cut out bottom of basket

If the plant is extremely loose in the rootball you should try to remove the wire basket but leave most of the burlap, because trying to get the burlap off may do more harm than good. In this case just roll back the burlap on top of the ball and cut away the excess.

Note: The wire baskets on large balled and burlapped plants can require a hacksaw or heavy duty wire cutters to remove them.

Handle the root ball carefully—never let it drop into the hole. Gently roll it into place.

Handle rootball carefully

Sit the plant up straight with the best side of the plant facing the viewer. Then fill around the plant and just cover the roots with soil. Gently pat the soil by hand (never stomp on the root ball to pack it down) and smooth the area around the plant. Build a saucer around the base of the plant to contain and direct water to the plant roots. Water right after planting.

Hint: When planting near a tree you should never chop large roots. An occasional root is OK but never a main root (if you have to get an axe or saw to chop a root then it’s a main root!). Always yield in favor of the tree, because it’s probably big enough to fall on you when it dies. And it can hurt.

Tip: When planting next to your house leave some space between the plant and the house and plan on pruning a small space between the plant and your house—this will allow air to circulate and help keep moisture from causing rot and mildew to form on your house.

Container plants

Take the plants out of their containers. In most cases they should slip out of the container easily; if not, cut the container off with a good knife or hand pruners.

Cut container off with hand pruners

Knead the roots to loosen them up and place each plant in its hole.

Knead roots

Be sure the plant sits up straight, and plant it just deep enough to cover the roots. Fill around the hole with soil, pat the soil gently, and smooth the area around the plant. Build a saucer around the base of the plant to contain and direct water to the plant roots. Water right after planting.

Build saucer around plant to contain water
Bare root plants

Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the plant roots. Make a small mound in the bottom of the planting hole. Gently spread the roots over the mound in the hole and sprinkle dirt over them until they are covered.

Gently spread roots over mound and backfill

Fill the hole up to the base of the plant and gently pack the soil with your hand. Build a saucer around the base of the plant to contain and direct water to the plant roots. Water right after planting.

Water bare root plants right after planting
Bulbs

Planting depths and times vary depending on the bulb, so ask the nursery staff for planting instructions or follow instructions on the package, if available.

Planting bulbs
Seeds

Read the package—the directions are usually clear and planting methods and depths vary depending on what you are planting.

Planting seeds

Module Content

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Module 7: Plant – Install plants of all types and sizes

Installing plants of all types and sizes

Additional Modules

01

Module 1: Site – What is a garden site and site analysis?

What is a site? Your site is the place where plants go: a garden, flower pot, window box, yard. While most people think of a site as just a plot of dirt, it really is more than that: the site includes all of the ingredients that make it unique, such as its soil and climate. …

Module 1: Site – What is a garden site and site analysis? Read More »

02

Module 2: Style – The elements of garden style

What is Style? Style can be many things to many people. For you it will be the unique way you arrange the materials that will make up your garden. Usually, creating garden designs with style is a compromise between your wants and your constraints. Wants will vary from person to person. A family with six …

Module 2: Style – The elements of garden style Read More »

03

Module 3: Selection – Plants that fit your site and style

You will probably get plants and seeds from retail garden centers (nurseries) or from mail order retailers. Large nurseries usually have a wide range of plants; smaller garden centers usually have a smaller stock of plants to choose from, but you can often find a more relaxed and helpful sales staff. Mail order suppliers may …

Module 3: Selection – Plants that fit your site and style Read More »

04

Module 4: Design – From concept to plan

Up to now we have discussed principles and techniques for evaluating your site, designing gardens, and selecting plants. In this module we take up the process of actually creating your garden. The following steps should get you started: Determine the conditions in your garden site by doing site analysis. Compile a list of your site …

Module 4: Design – From concept to plan Read More »

05

Module 5: Prepare – How to get your planting site ready

Unless you are already endowed with good soil and a ready site, you will need to prepare your soil for planting. Preparation involves laying out your site, removing anything that has to go, making beds, and amending and grading your soil. Depending on your design and your site, this could be very easy work or …

Module 5: Prepare – How to get your planting site ready Read More »

06

Module 6: Preview – Make sure your garden looks right and has room to grow

Place your plants (still in their containers) in the bed and space them as the label indicates using the enclosed tape measure. When measuring the distance between plants, measure from the center of one plant to the center of the next plant. Step back and take a good look at your arrangement; if you want …

Module 6: Preview – Make sure your garden looks right and has room to grow Read More »

07

Module 7: Plant – Install plants of all types and sizes

You should be ready to plant now. Follow the directions on the plant label, if provided. Use a shovel or hand trowel to dig holes. Clean-up, mulch, and water when done. The following are general instructions for different types of plants: Balled and burlapped plants You should remove the burlap and wire basket (if the …

Module 7: Plant – Install plants of all types and sizes Read More »

08

Module 8: Maintain – watering to winterizing and everything in between

A clean garden is not like a clean room. A mulch will fade, weeds will crop up, and your sharp edges will blur. Your goal is not to fight a battle with nature but to work with it. Your maintenance and devotion can help your garden evolve into a complex, beautiful growth, but it should …

Module 8: Maintain – watering to winterizing and everything in between Read More »

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