Editors note: Get Growing, written by the La Plata County Extension Offices Master Gardener Program, appears every other week during the growing season. It features timely tips and suggestions for your garden and landscape.
By Darrin Parmenter
As long as you have the ability to water a newly planted tree or shrub during the establishment period, June is a great time to get it in the ground. Purchase your woody plants from a local nursery and follow these steps for a successful addition to your landscape:
1. Dig a hole, and take your time. The depth of the hole should be 1 to 2 inches less than the height of the root ball (the part of the tree in the container). Dont put backfill soil on top of the root ball once it is in the ground. If you can dig a saucer-shaped hole, then you will allow the root system to grow rapidly without restrictions.
2. Set the tree in place. If the tree has burlap, twine or wire holding it in place, remove as much as possible (preferably the upper two-thirds of root ball) after placing in the hole. Make sure that any remaining burlap is buried as it can whisk moisture away from the plant.
3. Backfill. If the existing soil does not drain well, then add about 25 percent of a soil amendment to the backfill and mix well. Dont overpack the soil when you return it to the hole no need to take out your aggression and stomp it in. Pack gently, and then slowly add water. Once the water drains, you will see if the soil has settled.
4. Staking. If you live in a really windy place, you should consider staking the tree. Just make sure you dont cause any damage to the trunk.
5. No mulch volcanoes. There is no need to place mulch plant-based or rock directly over the root ball. Three to 4 inches of mulch over the backfilled area and beyond is recommended.
Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.