Introduction to planting moving and pruning Shrubs. Plus free guide

iannJanuary 1, 2013

Planting Shrubs

The first step to having a beautiful shrub in your garden is to plant it. This is a little scary because most shrubs are a long-term proposition and many are quite expensive. Add to this the old stories about how difficult the whole thing is and you might be a bit wary of trying this.

Most shrubs these days will be bought in a pot, especially by inexperienced gardeners. This is great because planting can be done at almost any time and there's almost nothing that can go wrong. I'll describe how to plant bare-root shrubs later. Another little luxury with a pot-grown shrub is that it can be left for several months, even years, before being planted in the garden.

By far the hardest part of planting a shrub is preparation of the hole. Water the pot throroughly before you start or even the night before. You can modify the soil near the shrub but its extensive roots will eventually hit your native clay/rock/sand and should be able to withstand the natural conditions. Preparation of the hole is simply to give the shrub a good start. The general rule is to dig a hole twice the depth and width of the pot and to mix some organic material into the soil from the hole. Some slow-release fertiliser like bone-meal or granular 7-7-7 can also be added to the mix but don't overdo it. Water the hole throroughly - in very dry soil, fill the hole with water and allow it to drain.

If the shrub has many circling roots from being trapped in the pot, gently tease some of them loose without breaking them. Plant the shrub with the top of the soil at the same level as in the pot. Use the mixed soil and organic compost to fill the hole firmly. Use your heel to press the soil down. To help with watering, you can plant in a slight hollow or add a raised ring of soil round the edge of the hole. Water again throroughly and water regularly during dry weather for the first year.

Bare-root shrubs are just that, shrubs that have little or no soil, just roots in a bag. They are only available in late autumn and winter when the shrubs are dormant, otherwise they would quickly die in such a condition. They should be planted quite quickly. Planting is essentially the same as for pot plants, but you need a little more care to avoid air pockets and keep the roots in contact with soil. Watering is less important since the shurb is mostly dormant, but it will still need extra water during its first season. Bare root shrubs can be stored for a few weeks by "heeling in". You simply dig a small trench, lay the plants on the mound of soil at one side of the trench, with the roots in the trench, and loosely cover the roots with soil.

Finally, make sure you don't plant your shrubs too close. Most shrubs are large and make an individual statement. They should usually be planted so that there will be space around the plant even when it is mature. Check the final width since many shrubs grow wider than tall, only a few have extremely upright...

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