How a tree or shrub is planted plays a big role in the future health and growth of the plant.
The GA FACES article "How trees, shrubs are planted determines their success", by William Tyson, UGA Extension Coordinator for Effington County, explains the steps, and reasons behind the steps, for planting these woody plants correctly.
Tyson explains the process:
1. Before even bringing a plant home, check its roots to assess the root system. The plant will be less successful if the roots are compromised in any way. He says, "If roots are circling inside the pot and/or crossing over one another
(girdling), prune at the crossover so the roots will grow outward."
2. Dig the hole:"When digging the hole that will become the plant’s new home, make sure it is two
to three times wider than the size of the root diameter." The hole should be wide and shallow, so that the top of root mass will sit slightly above the level of the surrounding soil.
3. Do not overwater: "Plants need both water and air around their roots, so the soil should not be too
wet. Too much water will cause the plant to lose new roots. Since there is a
relation between roots and the amount of top canopy growth, the plant ceases to
4. Wait to apply fertilizer: "It is best not to fertilize until the plant begins to grow. When the top of the
plant starts growing, this indicates the roots have grown."
For Tyson's complete article, select (by clicking on) the linked article title above.
For additional information and details of planting large trees or on slopes, go to the UGA publication "Tree Planting Details" that contains a table of links to drawings and specific guidelines for these situations.