Planting trees and plants in the fall

Asked September 19, 2017, 12:16 PM EDT

We live in Canby Oregon and would like to plant some trees and plants to landscape our yard. Is there a fertilizer or soul mixture that is recommended to use when we plant?

Clackamas County Oregon

1 Response

When planting virtually any landscape trees or shrubs directly into the ground (i.e., not in containers), the best soil mix, by far, is the one you already have.

Years ago we were taught to plant trees and shrubs in a fairly deep hole somewhat wider than the pot in which the plant arrived, and to mix the backfill earth with organic matter, fertilizer, and assorted other magic potions. You occasionally still find this planting advice on some plant tags.

Subsequent research has shown that it is MUCH better to dig a broad shallow hole (two or three times the diameter of the original pot), to set the plant a little higher than it was growing previously, to soak the root ball for at least several hours before planting, to loosen and spread out the roots as widely as possible (which is much easier because of the long pre-soak). And to backfill the whole with original soil, to which exactly NO amendments of any kind have been added. Then finish off with two or three inches of mulch on top of the soil, holding it a little away from the trunk(s), but it carrying it out beyond the drip line. This combination results in much better distribution of irrigation water, and much better root growth.