(If nothing else, PLEASE read the watering instructions)


            Before receiving your plants it is imperative, to contact DIGGERS HOTLINE to make sure there aren't any utility lines buried where you would like to plant. Allow three working days for them to mark your property. The service is free and the toll free number is 1‑(800)‑242‑8511.


            The installation of woody ornamentals, trees and shrubs, can be accomplished at just about anytime. The only limiting factors would be frozen soil, flooded areas and improper transplanting. Improper transplanting is the digging and subsequent repositioning of a woody ornamental at the wrong time of the year. Woody ornamentals should only be dug before leafing-out in Spring or following Autumn leaf drop. Unless the root ball is very large, such as with a tree spade, woody ornamentals should not be transplanted during active growth or the heat of the summer. Installing a pre-dug, balled & burlapped or containerized plant can be done at almost all other times. Spring is a great time but Autumn is as good if not even better. Planting during the Spring or Summer requires a little more attention to watering than does Autumn planting – usually. Note the watering guidelines below. When planting during the Spring or Summer, one must ensure adequate moisture during the entire season. When planting in the Autumn, (as well as if you planted during the previous season), you need to ensure adequate Spring moisture, if Spring is at all droughty. Otherwise, root and leaf development occurs in the cool ness and commonly moisture-ridden Spring. Never the less, all times are good for planting if one pays attention to the plants’ requirements.


            Tools required: shovels (2 -- just is case one is broken); plastic tarp for the top soil; wheelbarrow for moving plants or soil; sharp knife or scissors for cutting twine; burlap or the container (we recycle containers); GROMAX® planting fertilizer tablets; plants; hooked up hose; ROSS® Root Feeder (strongly recommend and if not utilized, may invalidate the plants’ warrantee); shredded OAK bark mulch; pliers for pulling out nails; stakes and pencil for noting planting positions; tape measure; crowbar if plants are large; gloves; supervision for encouragement and assistance -- and your favorite drink!


            Locate the plants future position by measuring according to the plan, if applicable, and dig the hole. Careful removal of the sod allows its use elsewhere. Pile the soil on a tarp or in a wheelbarrow to make cleanup easier. Position the topsoil on the tarp and the lower or bottom soil in the wheelbarrow to facilitate disposal. The hole should be 1 to 2 feet larger in diameter then the diameter of the root ball or pot the plant arrives in. Also, dig the hole with a flare, the sides tapering towards a central flat area. This central flat area must be at the same depth or thickness of the root ball and somewhat wider then the base of the root ball on your planting stock. Measure the root ball to assure you have the correct measurements. It is easier to dig the hole correctly then to remove the plant and dig again. A shovel handle laid flat across the hole and a tape measure held perpendicular to the handle down into the center of the hole, allows for easy measurement of the hole's depth. When planting on a slope, average the depth of the hole right to left and not front to back. Pile the soil down slope, creating a water holding lip.

            Depth is very important since plants are intolerant of being planted too shallow or too deep. Too shallow means the roots dry out too fast, improperly freeze, sucker freely and/or produce unsightly surface roots. Planting too deep, commonly causes drowning and death. When in doubt, planting it too shallow rather than too deep, would be preferred. If the soil is a heavy clay or drains poorly, such as in a new or recent (within five years) construction, shallow planting is preferred -- too deep would bring death!


           When planting roses, it is imperative that the graft union is two inches below grade. (The grade is the top level of the parent soil.) When the graft unions are planted above grade, roses usually die. Some roses are hardier than others but regardless of the type this procedure greatly contributes to survival success. The graft is easily found along the main trunk of the rose. It is the union between the stem and the main branches of the plant.

Species roses such as Rosa caroliniana, R. virginiana, R. arkasana and some new roses now on the market are being raised from cuttings and are not grafted. These include the wonderful 'Oso Easy' & 'Oso Happy' Roses. These roses would be planted as you would any other woody ornamental shrub.

For added winter protection, cover the roses, about 1 foot deep, with shredded bark mulch, forming a broad-based cone over the center of the plant. In the spring, remove the bark, in Mid-April, and use the bark as a summer mulch.


            Bare root trees and shrubs are sometimes available. All of the instructions apply for planting and caring for them with the following exceptions. Since they are bare root, they must be kept moist if not wet, at all times. Drying out anytime during bud or shoot development generally results in failure. If they cannot be planted immediately upon arrival, storing them in a pot of wet peat moss, compost or soil will hold them for a few days. NEVER allow the root to dry out. When planting, never take them out of the soil and leave them exposed to the air or sunlight for more than a few seconds. Have the whole pre--dug, wetted and plant them immediately. Plant so the splay of roots (except for roses as noted above) is just below the surface. Follow all other instructions here but keep them very evenly moist to nearly wet. Don’t allow them to dry out and then drown them, that is even more detrimental.


            If the plants were left somewhere other then right next to the planting hole, carefully pick up the plant by its root ball or container. Never pick up a large plant by its trunk or branches, as damage to the root mass is sure to result. If the root ball is too heavy to be picked up, position a wheelbarrow next to the ball. The base of the ball should be towards the handles, and the top of the plant positioned away from the front. Lay the wheelbarrow on its side and position the open top as close as possible next to -- under the ball. To avoid damaging a tree, secure a blanket around the trunk.

            Three people are usually required to perform the following. One person holds onto the handles, the second grips the upside of the wheelbarrow and the third pushes on the root ball. As the third person rolls the root ball into the wheelbarrow, the second person pulls on the wheelbarrow's lip and then the root ball as the wheelbarrow is positioned upright. The first person acts as a guide and balance. Once the root ball is in the wheelbarrow, gently position the tree forward so branches aren't touching the ground and the tree is balanced. The first person then moves the wheelbarrow to the site while the second and third persons help stabilize the load. When arriving at the planting site, reverse the loading endeavor to unload the tree by resting the side of the wheelbarrow against the pile of soil, from the hole, to facilitate the unloading process. Careful not to crack or split, drop or damage the root ball.

            Once the depth is assured, position the balled and burlapped plant by rolling it carefully near the hole and positioning the lip, side and bottom (lay the root ball alongside the hole) of the root ball two inches outside the hole. Then slip or twirl the root ball's base into the hole first followed gently and smoothly by the entire root ball. If the plant can be picked up by two people, just position it in the hole. Large root balls are not easy to plant!

            Smaller plants occasionally come in pots or containers. (We recycle all pots and containers). CAREFULLY remove all containers regardless of composition before planting by cutting away if necessary. Check to see if there is a balled and burlapped root ball in the container. If so, follow the instructions for balled and burlapped planting. If the woody ornamental is potted, allow the soil to dry slightly before attempting repotting. This coalesces the soil into a firmer ball and helps prevent root damage when removing it from the pot. Lay them on their sides and gently pull or wiggle the pot off from the bottom of the plant. If done next to the hole, the root ball sans the pot can then gently slide right into the hole with minimal if any damage.

            Do not remove the wire basket or rotting burlap from the root ball as damage to the roots often occurs. Check to make sure the level of the top of the root ball is EQUAL to the surrounding soil level. I commonly use the heel toe method by placing my heel on the original soil and my shoe tip on the root ball. This rapidly indicates proper positioning. If depth is improper, carefully remove the plant and adjust the depth. Removing the plant may be difficult and help should be available. If it is a very large tree, call us for advice.


            Proper orientation of the plant is not only artistic but also practical. Move the plant by rotating it with a crow bar by hooking the bar on the wire basket or the twine. Rotate the plant for optimum aesthetic and growth characteristics. Try to orient a strong dominant branch towards the prevailing northwest winds. If the plant is multi-stemmed, orient the smallest stem towards your home of the best view.

            After positioning, cut and remove the twine from around the base of the trunk and remove the burlap from the top of the root ball only. Throw the nails in the hole or in the trash but never on the lawn. Don't try to remove the twine, wire basket or burlap from under the root ball. If rot proof plastic mesh was used, cut it away as best as possible leaving that which cannot be removed from under the root ball.

            Position the ROSS® root feeder, attached to a hose, by sticking its point into the ground until the point is at the bottom the hole, then turn on the root feeder's valve on LOW volume. This slurries the soil, as you install it, allowing for complete soil fill. Remember to turn off the valve before removing the feeder from the hole.

            Back fill the open space with crumbled soil from the site and press firmly with the heel of your shoe as you fill. Fill to 1" below the soil's original level. Continue watering until the entire hole and depression is filled with water. Then turn off the water.


            At this time, remove any additional sod from around the tree's planting area thereby forming a circle. The size of the circle may be determined by the following rule of thumb. For each inch of the tree's trunk diameter (caliper), remove a TWO FOOT radius of sod. For example: if the tree has a 2" diameter trunk, the area to have the sod removed should be a minimum of 2' in radius or 4' diameter. In shrubs, or multi-stemmed plantings, for every foot of height, the area of sod removal should be increased by 1' in diameter. For example: if a shrub is 6' high, the area of sod removal should be 6' in diameter. At the outer edge of the grassless area, form a small but noticeable lip of soil forming a 3" depression. This shallow area allows for water pooling and thereby even watering.


            In the gap between the original soil and the root ball, position the proper quantity the GROMAX® planting tablets supplied by us. GROMAX®, is a 21 gram tablet formulated at 20% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphorus and 5% Potassium, plus 6 microelements at: 1.8% Ca; 3% S; .05% CU; .17% Mn; .08% Zn and 1.12% Fe in a 2 year fertilizer tablet. If you did not receive them, please stop by to pick them up. The tablets should be evenly spaced around the outer perimeter of the root ball and positioned halfway down into the soil. Quantity (Qty) listed is the minimum recommended, the maximum is twice the minimum listed.

Container - plant size ---Qty Required

#1 6-9" ----------1

#2 9-12"-------- 2

#3 12-15"------ 3

#4 12-15" ------3

#5 15-18" ------3

#6 18-20" ------3

#7 18-24" ------5

#10 24-30" ----5

#15 30-36" ----6

#25 --------------8

2-4' --------------6

3½-4' -----------6

4-4½' -----------6

4-5' --------------6

4½-5' ------------6

5-6' --------------6


7-8' --------------8

8-9' --------------8

9-10' -------------8


14-16' ----------10

16-18' ----------10

½-.75" Caliper-- 4

.75-1" Caliper ---4

1-1¼" Caliper ---6

1-1½" Caliper ---6

1¼-1½" Caliper---- 6

1½-1.75" Caliper-- 8

1½-2" Caliper ------8

1.75-2" Caliper ----8

2-2¼" Caliper ------10

2-2½" Caliper ------10

2¼-2½" Caliper ----10

2½-3" Caliper -------10

3-3½" Caliper -------10

3½-4" Caliper -------10

4-4½" Caliper -------12

4½-5" Caliper --------12

5-5½" Caliper --------16

5½-6" Caliper --------12

6-6½" Caliper --------18

5-6' Multistem ---------10

6-7' Multistem ---------10

7-8' Multistem ---------10

8-9' Multistem ---------10

9-10' Multistem -------10

10-12' Multistem -----12

12-14' Multistem -----14

14-16' Multistem -----14

16-18' Multistem -----14

Fe-26, aka FeMax tablets are 15 grams each composed of 26% Iron, 18% Sulfur, 6% Manganese and 2% Zinc. The 4 elements are derived from Iron Sucrate, Iron Sulfate, Elemental Sulfur, Manganese Sucrate and Zinc Sucrate. These tablets comprise a patented quick release iron complex that is bound together with a dispersal agent. Due to its unique chemistry, it keeps the iron from being locked up in the soil. By tableting these compounds they have created a high iron content product that when placed in the soil begins to dissolve slowly for up to twelve months. This special ability to not lock up in the soil and what is dissolved becomes readily available to the plant. For newly installed plants, use approximately 6 tablets for each inch of caliper. The caliper of a tree is measured 6" above grade. On existing shrubs and bushes, use 1 to 2 per foot diameter of crown. If your Rhododendron is 6 feet across, use 6 12 tablets. Follow the installation instructions above for Gromax tablets.

For a list of plants that enjoy acid soils and for the use of Fe-26 FeMax tablets, see http://www.landscapedesigns.bz/archives/V18-soilacidity.htm


            After a short period of time, the water should have soaked into the ground and the soil should have settled. At this time position 3-4" of shredded bark mulch on the top of the depression with only 1" around the base or 6-12” out from the base of plant, do not to fill in the depression. Mounding the mulch up around the base of the plant may cause root suffocation, fungal growth on the base or enhance vermin damage. The mulch reduces water evaporation, maintains cool soil temperatures, reduces weed and grass competition and prevents damage to the trunk by lawn mowers and weed‑whackers. This can be shredded oak or conifer (cedar, pine, hemlock, cypress) bark. Wood chips, walnut and mixed soft woods can be used but avoid incorporating them into the soil structure. Remember wood is the bone of the tree and bark is its skin! Replenish the mulch as necessary -- about every two years.

            If the upper portion of the plant was tied in twine, cut it and remove it at this time. Removal of the twine earlier often results in the branches getting in the way and damaged. When planting evergreens, it is of utmost importance that the planting depth is PERFECT. NO portion of the trunk tissue should be below grade! Evergreens are very fussy about planting depth. For further watering information see POST PLANTING CARE.


            Many people ask about preparing the soil with peat moss, sand and compost. Current research indicates this should not be done. If the hole is back filled with richly prepared topsoil, the roots aren't forced to grow into the original soil but continue to develop within the confines of the hole, growing round and around and over each other. Even if and when the condition corrects itself in a few years, roots that were growing over each other continue to do so and gradually strangle each other and cause decline. In the future these roots would need to be severed by a tree surgeon. Other reasons include differences in: drainage, freezing, heating up, moistening, drying and chemical reactions. These differences often produce undesirable stress, poor growth patterns, week tissue development, poor flowering and potential death.


            Never prune a freshly planted tree or shrub. Recent studies prove that pruning a tree or shrub when planting actually increases shock and stunting. Do prune out damaged or broken stems and twigs and treat all wounds greater then 1" in diameter with COPPER Naphthenate or CUPRINOL® NUMBER 10 GREEN wood preservative. Never use tars, paints or tree coats. Recent studies at The University of Wisconsin show this is usually worse then doing nothing at all.


The Most Critical Time

            The success during this period of adjustment is proper observation and watering. For the first 3 weeks after installation, watering is necessary. Water must be allowed to soak into the original soil AND the plant's root ball, until BOTH are thoroughly soaked. A tree or shrub derives little or no benefit from frequent light rains or watering. We highly recommend the use of a ROSS® ROOT FEEDER to facilitate root irrigation. When probed directly into the plant's original root–soil ball, it ensures the soil ball is thoroughly soaked. Since the plant's roots are confined to this ball, it is imperative that it is kept moist at all times. Otherwise, the plant may fail even if the surrounding soil is moist. REMEMBER, the plant is drawing its entire watering requirement from the tiny root ball you received it in. Once the probe is in place, turn on the water at a LOW volume and leave on until water overflows the hole in which contains the root ball. This usually requires about 5 minutes. Turn off the root feeder, remove it and go to the next woody ornamental. Insert the probe into the root ball and repeat. Remember LOW volume flow. High-pressure flow creates caverns in the root ball by washing away the soil from the roots. This caverning can be fatal to the plant as big holes in the soil dry out even faster. A ROSS® ROOT FEEDER is available at most home supply and garden centers. Lack of using a ROSS® ROOT FEEDER may invalidate warranty.

            When using a ROSS® root feeder water is often pushed up to the surface along with significant quantities of soil. The washed out soil may create root ball cavities thereby reducing the plants' capacity to root into the parent soil. To avoid any potentially damaging effects due to these cavities, first, water the plant very well. After the water has drained away, compact the soil between the parent soil and the plant's root ball by using your heel. When doing this, you may find water being forced out of the holes where the root feeder was. While this isn't bad, it does indicate that the cavity is being filled with soil. Repeat this procedure as often as possible to ensure that cavities, surrounding the root ball, do not develop into `caverns'. Often, this `caverning’ is the first thing to check when a plant is not doing well.

            Please allow the soil to dry VERY SLIGHTLY between waterings. A constantly soggy wet soil soon loses its life‑giving oxygen and drowns the plant. If the soil ball or hole remains excessively wet, please contact us immediately. Watering, at a slow but steady volume, every 2‑5 days for 5‑60 minutes per plant is generally adequate. The great variability in time is due to different soil conditions, temperature, size of ball, planting hole, water pressure and type of planting. If the tree was installed with a tree spade, water heavily the first day. Make sure the entire root mass is soaked. Then water with a trickle every other day or so, allowing the soil to dry SLIGHTLY between waterings. If you walk around the perimeter of the root mass and it is squishy, back off on the watering until it firms-up and dries slightly. If any wilt is evident or if the foliage feels warm to the touch, WATER! Foliage that is evaporating moisture feels cool to the touch. Yellow lower leaves indicate the plant has recently severely wilted. A spaded tree may take up to five years to fully recover from the move. If the temperatures get into the mid 80’s or above, or if any drought is evident during this time, as with all newly installed plants, watering is imperative. So, WATER, WATER, WATER. REMEMBER, the plant is drawing its entire watering requirement from the tiny root ball you received it in.

            After the first 3 weeks, watering every 1‑2 weeks for the first growing season (March through October) ensures success. All new plants need to be thoroughly watered in November following the first hard frost of less then 20°F. This ensures them of enough moisture to survive the Winter. If Winter or Spring is snowless/dry, watering during this time aids in success. Lack of Spring rains often kills plants that do not have adequately established root systems by sunburn and/or winter burn. Even though it may appear foolish, early March and April watering with a ROSS® root feeder during a droughty Spring, enhances growth, insures continued success and reduces installation shock. It is so disheartening to watch countless evergreen turn suddenly brown and dead in the spring because of lack of water. Lack of water, following the spring thaw is the primary reason you may loose newly planted evergreens. Deciduous plants are somewhat more tolerant. Dead growing tips on larger trees is a sure sign of inadequate watering. The plants didn’t receive enough to get it to the tip.

Save yourself the grief and water them.

            A newly installed plant requires THREE to TEN years to fully develop the root mass it will need to survive normal weather conditions.


 It is IMPERATIVE that the WATER used on ALL plants is NOT ARTIFICIALLY SOFTENED. Artificially softened water DAMAGES and/or KILLS plants. WATERING WITH ARTIFICIALLY SOFTENED WATER VOIDS ALL GUARANTEES. There are a number of ways to determine softened water including taste, testing and noting the water lines in your home. A soil test is also available to determine if ANY soft water has been utilized in the irrigation of the plants.

            Upon installation by Landscape Designs, Inc., your trees and shrubs were fertilized with an appropriate number of GROMAX®.


            During the first few seasons and particularly during the Winter and early Spring months, we strongly recommend that trees with sensitive bark tissues be wrapped to protect them from varmint and/or frost crack.

LOCATION                   Unshaded South facing trunks split open in a long vertical fissures along the main trunk axis.

CONDITIONS                Very bright clear skies that allow direct sun on trunk tissue. This causes differential warming and expansion of the trunk tissue by the sunlight. This differential warming causes the cracking.

SENSITIVE TREES       Recently planted or transplanted, thin and/or smooth bark, gray or dark colored barks, 1" and larger trunk diameters and/or trees without mature or corky bark tissue. Frost cracking is frequent on Maple, Ash and Linden.

NON‑SENSITIVE TREES Bushes & shrubs, evergreens, old trees with well established bark, trunks shaded by other trees, shrubs and structures. Oak, Hackberry and Birch are nearly free of frost cracking.

MATERIALS USED FOR WRAPPING: Wrapping materials should be durable, flexible to bend with the tree, non‑abrasive, non‑strangulating, shade producing, breathable, draining and porous. Many different kinds of tree wraps are available from home & garden centers.

MATERIALS UNACCEPTABLE FOR WRAPPING: Plastic sheeting, such as garbage bags and VISQUEENÔ, and wooden boards are unacceptable wrapping materials.

SOLUTIONS                 Wrap the trunk starting from the bottom and spiraling upward with about a 1-inch overlap. Stop directly under the lowest branch with a couple of additional wraps. Tear off excess. Secure the end with masking tape, going twice around the wrapped trunk. Do not use wire, string, twine, duct tape or any other material that would not stretch and/or rot. When the tree initiates spring growth, strangulation could and often occurs with improper bindings.

            Painting the South-facing trunk with cheap white latex paint reduces the amount of heat absorbed by the trunk and therefore prevents splitting. The English continue to use white wash on the trunks of their fruit trees. This is very much in evidence in many countryside gardens. As the tree grows older the white paint flakes off and the tree is saved. Burlap, polyester and clothing fabrics applied as per tree wrap or just wrapped around the trunk and taped on the top, middle and bottom often suffices.


            REMEMBER all the brown dead or dying broad leaf and coniferous evergreens during the spring of 1988, 1989 & 1990? On Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday, in 1989, the temperatures rose into the upper seventies with crystal clear skies, very low humidity and totally frozen soils. The result was foliar burning, desiccation and dehydration resulting in DEATH. Evergreens are the hardest hit, especially newer plantings as they have little root development to aid in water collection. Many older evergreens were also very damaged including yews, white pines and hemlocks by browning on the South facing sides. When these conditions arise, a bed sheet (any color but those with tulips look the best), shade cloth, bushel baskets or large plastic pots placed over evergreens shades the foliage and prevent the crises. Sprayed on antidesicants are available to prevent foliage dehydration. Antidesicants work wonderfully, only if they are applied 2‑3 times during the winter season. Once very late in the Autumn ‑ Mid December, once during the `January Thaw' and then just before such occasions as Easter Saturday 1989. I suggest SAFERSÔ ForEverGreen® All Season Plant Protectant (formerly ENVY). Applying the day after the `heat' is not is very effective for the damage has already been done.


            Many woody ornamentals, herbaceous perennials, bulbous perennials, annuals and vegetable plants are prime food sources for wild life. Rabbits, rodents, squirrels, deer, and birds consume many different plants as their primary food sources. During the early years in a plant's life, we need to protect our young plants from unwanted browsing. This is especially critical during the first winter. Hardware cloth (effective against rodents), chicken wire (not effective against rodents), ADS tubing around the trunks of trees and similar materials generally are quite effective at control. I have seen rodents chew right through ADS live inside the tube girdling the trunks, so it should not have any space between the trunk and the ADS. I find chicken wire and hardware cloth fencing to be the most effective. Secure the fencing to the ground with stakes. Make sure the fence is high enough. With a 24" snow cover, the rabbits are able to chew anything sticking over the top of the fence.

Written by Stephen S. Lesch Copyright 1997 Landscape Designs, Inc., Rev. Oct. 2000.


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