Planting Guide

GreenScapes is committed to providing our customers with quality plant material. But it takes more than just a healthy plant to keep it that way. This guide contains information for maintaining your plants health and beauty in the Mohawk Valley.


You can plant containerized and B&B plants at any time of the year, even when plants are in bloom. Spring and early fall are ideal planting times. Summer is fine for planting if you give extra care to watering. The planting hole should be at least 2 time the width of the rootball. The depth of the hole has to be no deeper than the rootball. 1.) Find the trunk flare of the plant before you start excavating a hole. The trunk flare is the area on a plant where the roots start on the trunk. Sometimes you will have to remove some soil to expose the trunk flare, do this after you have the plant in the hole. Excavate a hole using the rule above for measurements. Slope the sides of the hole, increasing the friable soil for vigorous root growth. Remember when planting in clay soil to have the plant raised above the existing soil level by 4-6 inches. 2.) If plants are in containers, remove the container gently, prior to planting. Sometimes container-grown plants become rootbound. This means that the roots have become overgrown with in the container. If you notice an overabundance of roots, make some vertical slits down the sides of the rootball and spread the outer roots gently. For balled and burlapped plants, after stabilizing the plant by tamping soil firmly around the lower quarter of the rootball, cut off and remove the burlap and twine from the top and sides of the rootball, but not from beneath the ball. If your plant has a wire basket, the top half should be cut off. 3.) Backfill the hole with the amended soil. Do not stamp the soil down too hard. Packing the soil down too hard may make drainage and aeration difficult. A raised ring of soil formed around the edge of the rootball will create a basin that can be filled with water. Mulching A 2-4" layer of mulch over the root area of your plant would be beneficial. While keeping the soil cool and moist, the mulching will also control weeds and protect the roots in the winter. Ground up bark, leaves, straw and stone gravel can be used as mulch. Mulch an area at least 3 times the width of the rootball. KEEP MULCH 1-2" BACK FROM THE TRUNK. Fertilizing Fertilizers improve the health and condition of trees and shrubs while enabling the plant to resist specific diseases and insects. Newly planted trees and shrubs usually do not need to be fertilized the first year they are planted. Test your soil to see what nutrients and minerals it is lacking in order to choose the proper fertilizer. Ideally, trees and shrubs should be fertilized in the spring and then in fall. Follow the directions on the package for amounts and application procedures. Pruning Most shrubs, evergreens, and trees require some pruning, whether it be to maintain its health and appearance, or shape and size. For more information please see our handout on pruning shrubs and evergreens or ask a sales associate for help. Site and Plant Selection The first step in planning a planting is assessing the plant site and fitting the appropriate plant species to that site. Things to keep in mind for site selection: - Soil conditions: soil depth, fertility, and drainage. - Sun and wind exposure. - What size plant will the site allow. - Space constraints such as pavement, walkways, buildings, and other trees. Things to keep in mind for plant selection: - Tolerant to the moisture and drainage of your soil. - Tolerance to sun and wind exposure of your site. - Mature size is appropriate for the site. How is the soil where you want to put your plant? The Mohawk Valley has a predominately clay soil. This is one of the least desirable soils to grow your plants in (see Understanding Your Soil handout). The best thing you can do for your plants would be to have them in a raised bed which will keep the plants main root system above the clay soil, which retains too much moisture, contains no air spaces, and becomes hard packed when dry. Site Preparation New landscape beds should be fully prepared prior to planting. This is the time to add extra topsoil, peat moss, composted manures, etc., with the existing soil. If you are preparing a raised bed it is recommended to till the existing ground area prior to building the site up. If your soil is composed of clay you should add some form of compost at a one-to-one ratio. For sandy soils (usually found north of the Mohawk Valley) mix topsoil, peat moss, and compost at a one-to-one ratio. Watering Watering is the most important thing you have to do to maintain a properly planted tree or shrub. All new plantings, depending on the weather conditions, will probably need to be watered at least once a week for the next 2-4 weeks. After the initial 2-4 weeks, all plantings should be checked frequently for adequate moisture levels for at least a year (especially during the hot and dry summer and fall months). The easiest and best way to tell if your plant needs water is to make a hole in the soil about two inches deep beneath the plant and feel if there is moisture or not. If the soil feels dry, it is recommended to set a hose at a trickle at the base of the plant until the area is thoroughly wet. Watering time will vary depending on the size of the rootball.You want to water so that the entire rootball is wet. A quick sprinkle from a hose does not provide enough water to seep into the deeper roots. Overwatering can kill a plant just as not enough water will!   For any other questions, give us a call or stop in!