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Planting Instructions

Digging the hole and planting: Dig a hole twice as wide (or more) as the container but no deeper. Digging a hole that is too deep is not only unnecessary, it can cause the plant to settle and eventually may contribute to root rot and other problems. It is better for the crown of the plant to be planted at the same level as it is in the container, or even a little high, than to be placed too low. Place the plant or tree on the undug bottom of the hole and backfill with the original soil. Water thoroughly.

Amendments: Amendments are usually not necessary for most plants except in situations such as compacted soils, new construction sites with disturbed soils,  or soils with excessive clay. However, trees will exhibit substantially faster growth in the first few years if soil is amended, so we recommend adding a high quality compost and/or a product like VermiBlend, for Japanese maples or other high-value plants.

Mulch: After planting, add a 2-4" layer of coarse organic mulch like bark. Pull the mulch 3" away from the trunk. Water the area thoroughly to settle the soil and mulch.

Water: The newly planted tree or shrub should not be allowed to completely dry until it is established and the roots begin to reach out into the surrounding soil. New plants should be watered frequently. The soil and rootball should feel moist, but not dripping wet or dusty dry. Do not overwater. Saturated soils are a common cause of plant death. We suggest drip irrigation for all plants if possible. As the plant matures, its water needs will change. Water should be applied less often but deeply. The water should be deep to encourage the roots to reach out in the soil. Water should be applied very slowly (using drip irrigation or a soaker hose) but for many hours so water seeps deep in the soil. Shallow watering practices are the most common cause of large surface roots in lawns and gardens.

Lawns and Groundcovers: These plants compete with the newly planted tree for water and nutrients. It is preferable not to grow lawn or groundcovers under new trees.

Fertilizing: Most trees and plants purchased at Lake's nursery have already been fertilized earlier in the year. Fertilizers can be added soon after planting if the customer desires and should applied to the soil surface (not dug into the soil) or as directed by the fertilizer package. Fertilizing newly planted trees and shrubs may promote more rapid growth and help plants grow more quickly. Do not apply more fertilizer than is recommended by package directions.

Young trees can be fertilized for the first few years until the plant reaches a satisfactory height. Spring fertilization is the most important application followed by later applications as per package directions.  We recommend either an organic fertilizer or a standard or slow-release N-P-K fertilizer in early spring followed by organic fertilzer during the hotter months (if fertilization during the summer is desired). Organic fertlizers are often absorbed at a slower, more natural, rate than other fertilizers and Japanese maples do quite well with organics. Mature trees and shrubs do not usually require fertilizing.

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