When planting a shrub, the secret is to make sure the ground is properly prepared. This will create the best growing conditions to make the most of your plant.
First of all, you have to know where to plant your shrub. Different plants prefer different types of soil, lighting conditions and even wind shelter. To identify the best spot for your specific shrub species, check the label or ask your garden centre for advice.
Once you know your location, clear any weeds. This stops them taking water and nutrients away from your plant. Pull the weeds out, trying to get as much of the root system as possible.
Dig a hole roughly 20% deeper and wider than the rootball of your shrub. Fork the base of the hole to make the soil light and loose. This is much better than a compact base as the plant can easily grow new roots and get established.
Then add a few handfuls of compost, which provides a good hit of nutrients for the new plant. You can either purchase compost in the garden centre or use your own home-made material.
This also acts as a base so the new roots of the plant are not hitting tough soil.
Next, tease the plant out of the pot. Squeeze the sides of the container to loosen the root ball – this helps you slide the pot off more easily. Then stand the plant in the hole.
The surface of the soil around the rootball should be at the same level as the surface of the soil in the border. Planting it too deep can seriously damage the shrub or inhibit its growth.
Next, fill in the hole with the soil you excavated. Then firm in your plant – I use the heel of my wellies to push it in. Again, make sure that the surface of the plant’s own soil is the same level as your soil.
Give it a good watering. Invariably some soil does settle down into the hole as it becomes wet, so you may have a few gaps. Top up with more soil and water again.
If it is a tall shrub, I would advise staking it to protect it from the wind. Strong gusts could loosen it and cause damage to the plant new roots it’s trying to establish. Push the stake into the soil at a diagonal, so you don’t damage the rootball.
Planting a new shrub is as simple as that – great results with very little effort!
For more garden planting ideas, check out my blog:
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.