7 Step Guide: How And When To Plant Shrubs For Great Results

Shrubs are the quintessential part of every garden’s ecosystem. They improve soil stability and create a beautiful backdrop for other plants. But when it comes to knowing how and when to plant shrubs, there are a few important points to consider.

I will walk you step-by-step through the whole process of planting shrubs in your garden so you can enjoy your evergreens for years to come.

How and When To Plant Shrubs

Before I start with the important steps to planting success, let me explain why fall is the best time to plant shrubs.

  1. During fall that plants get the maximum amount of time to settle in the soil before the extreme demands of summer are thrust onto it. The roots are shallow and have needed the maximum amount of time possible to develop deeper into moist soil.
  2. The soil temperatures are still warm, providing an ideal environment to stimulate the much-needed new root growth.
  3. Fall is the time when many plants and trees enter a period of dormancy or hibernation. During this time, shrubs shift their focus on root development and prepare for the cooler months ahead by storing nutrients.

But just because fall is the best time for new shrubs to be planted in your garden, it doesn’t mean you just plant them and leave them to it.

To get the best results, follow our quick and easy 7 steps to help your young or new shrubs reach their full potential!

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Step By Step Guide To Planting Shrubs 

Before I do any form of planting I always like to take a quick soil pH test using a test kit and make sure I have the ground well prepared and amended as needed.

Step 1: Before planting the shrub in your garden, make sure it’s thoroughly watered. Use a hose or watering can. Also, let the shrub sit in a bucket of water for 15 minutes or so to soak the rootball.

Step 2: Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the shrub’s pot. Mix the soil with compost and other organic matters before taking the shrub out of the pot.  

Step 3: The easiest way to get a baby shrub out of its cot – I mean pot – is to lay the plant on its side, with one hand holding its head (top part), while gently easing the root ball out of its pot.

Step 4: Position the shrub in the center of the hole before filling the gaps around the sides with soil mixture.

If I’m planting out a species that is sensitive to soil pH such as a hydrangea, where the color of the plant will be influenced by the soil conditions, then I may add a hydrangea fertilizer that includes a soil amendment product to get it off to the right start.

Step 5: Remember to plant the shrub at the same depth in the soil as the pot. If the shrub’s posture is a little too low, add a bamboo cane or a piece of wood to hold the plant upright.

Step 6: Once you’ve fully filled the hole, firm the soil with your feet – but don’t squash it. Make sure there are no air pockets in the soil and the shrub isn’t wobbly. Water the plant again with a full watering can.

Step 7: Now comes the easy part: sit back on a comfortable chair and admire your work. 

Good to Know  

  • Decide where you want to plant the shrub as it will eventually grow into a large tree or plant. Take into account light obstruction, falling leaves, and even foundation damage once the plant starts taking root. So choose the location carefully.
  • The soil must be loosened to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. This will improve drainage and eliminate compaction.
  • Never plant your new shrub immediately after rain because the soil will be muddy and difficult to fill back around the rootball. On top of that, I’m sure you’ll agree that working in muddy conditions is downright messy and uncomfortable.

How Often To Water Newly Planted Shrubs

Newly planted shrubs require more frequent watering than established plants. Water them before and after planting and at the following intervals:

Week 1: water daily or every other day in cooler temperatures

Week 2 onward: if the weather is very hot or dry, water every day. Otherwise, just water the shrubs two or three times per week until the rainy season comes usually from fall.

Feeding Shrubs

Fertilizing newly planted shrubs is generally not recommended as it can lead to weak or stunted growth. It’s best to wait two or three years before you start applying shrub or tree fertilizer.

Weeding and Mulching Shrubs

Mulching is an essential part of healthy shrub growth. Mulch is a layer of organic matter, which can include natural materials like grass clippings, tree bark, composted leaves, and peated moss.

When mulching your newly planted shrubs, make sure you spread it at the base of the plant to protect the roots from temperature extremes. Mulch conserves water in the soil while providing the roots with the nutrients they need.

Another huge advantage of mulching is that it helps keep out those nuisance weeds from invading the soil and competing with your new shrubs.

The best time to mulch is from mid to late spring or fall when the soil is warm and moist.

But how do I mulch my new shrub? I hear you asking.

Spread your mulch around the newly planted shrub to a depth of about two or three inches deep. Why up to 3 inches? Because you wouldn’t want weed seeds to start sprouting around your shrub.

 A pile of mulch will block the weeds’ access to sunlight so they won’t get any energy to push through. As a rule of thumb, the larger the width of the plant is, the more mulch you should apply around it. 

Final Thoughts on Planting Shrubs

So there we have it! Plant your new shrubs in fall to allow the maximum opportunity for new root development and growth ahead of the testing conditions of summer.

Know you know when to plant shrubs and how best to do it, you can enjoy a luscious garden border all year round.

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