3810 Whites Creek Pike, Nashville, TN 37207 (615) 876-1014

Archive date:  December 11, 2009


This also applies to new plantings… -

My grandmother always said, “ If you are planting a $2 plant, dig a $10 hole”. That was her way of (obviously) overstating the need for soil preparation. Preparing a hole for a bareroot plant is somewhat different from preparing one for a plant with a root ball. Regardless of the type of plant, it is a good idea to have the soil tested. If the test results show deficiencies, make necessary nutritional amendments prior to planting. Most starter-type fertilizers are high in phosphorus. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, for this reason, organic fertilizers are particularly good. The nitrogen from organic sources will not be at a high level or fast releasing.

Start by digging the hole for a bareroot plant half again wider than the root system so the roots can be fully expanded and arranged in a natural position. To prevent settling of the plant, leave the center of the bottom portion of the hole higher than the edges. The mound height is determined by placing the plant on the mound so that the marked soil line is an inch above the soil line of the planting hole. As the soil settles over time, the plant will settle so that it will come to rest with the previously marked soil line matching that of the new location.

Place the plant on the mound and spread the roots in the planting hole. Roots should not be crowded or twisted. Roots that have been improperly arranged at planting can result in slow growth or even the death of a tree or shrub after a few years. Be sure that the root collar is no deeper than an inch below the soil surface. If plants are planted too deep during extended wet periods, they can die from constant moisture around the trunk. This can cause the bark to rot off, thus killing the plant.

While holding the tree in the proper position in the center of the hole, at the proper depth, add soil to the hole, being careful to work it among the roots and firming with your hands. After about half of the soil has been put in the hole, water thoroughly. Once the water has drained, this will have settled the soil and removed pockets of air. Add remaining soil. Tamp the soil lightly with your foot, but do not tamp so heavily as to compact the soil. Rake soil away from stem and create a “saucer” around the outer area of the root zone to create a reservoir…a circular dam. Water the plant again for final settling of the soil.

Balled-and-burlapped or balled-and-potted: Dig a hole for balled plants 50 percent wider than the soil ball. The hole should be just deep enough that the root system is at the same depth it was before it was dug.

Set the plant in the center of the hole (leave the burlap on the root-ball if present). Cut any synthetic twine (natural twine will rot away) or wire, if used. Leave the burlap on the ball (removing the burlap may injure plant roots by allowing root ball to break apart). To fill the hole, add soil by gently working it around the soil ball and firming with your hands. After half the soil has been put in the hole, water thoroughly. Once the water has drained (settling the soil and eliminating air pockets), add remaining soil. Tamp the soil lightly with your foot, but do not tamp so heavily as to compact the soil. Finally, “saucer” the tree and water again to settle the topsoil.

Hardwood Mulch helps conserve moisture in the soil, moderates temperature extremes. Place 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the soil, pulling it away from the trunk of the plant. Use a layer of weed barrier cloth such as Typar®, underneath mulch, to keep weeds out.

Holiday reminders: we are continuing to offer all poinsettias (in addition to red, we also have white and pink), wreathes and garland at 25% off. All Living Christmas Trees are 25-50% off.

The easiest gift for the gardeners in your life is a Bates Nursery Gift card: if you purchase between now and Christmas eve, you will receive an additional $25 gift certificate for every $100 gift card purchase, Give both together as a gift, keep the $25 gift certificate for yourself, or “buy-up” your own future discount. You don’t even have to come in to pick up call with any credit card, and we’ll either mail to you or the intended recipient. Give us a call at 615-876-1014 to order today!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,

David Bates