Tree Planting Completion – Part 2

By: Jennifer LaMontagne- Assistant Horticulturist- Bloch’s Farm- Green Lake, WI

For many varieties of shrubs and trees, fall is the perfect time for planting. Planting requires just a little planning and preparation for optimum growth. Last week, we shared helpful tips such as selecting the perfect site for your shrubs and trees, and taking safety precautions such as having your buried gas and electrical lines marked prior to digging. Once you have the hole prepared and have properly placed the shrub or tree, then it’s time to finish up the process.

Step 4: Backfilling. Now is the time to add compost, peat moss, or starter fertilizers. Bloch’s Farm recommends adding organic Purple Cow Compost when planting a new tree or shrub. Avoid using fertilizers with high levels of nitrogen as this could interfere with the tree going into dormancy. The compost, peat moss, or starter fertilizer should be evenly mixed with the contents from the hole. To avoid air pockets, lightly tap the soil in the hole around the rootball. When the hole is filled about three-quarters of the way, water heavily and let the water soak in. This helps further eliminate air pockets, settles the soil, and thoroughly moistens the roots. When the water has soaked in completely, you can finish filling the hole.

Step 5: Post-planning care. Watering too much or too little is often a major cause of tree or shrub loss. The site should be thoroughly watered immediately after planting. Thereafter, the soil must be regularly monitored to prevent drying out. A tree that is well hydrated in fall, is less likely to develop winter burn.

Mulching helps conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature, and control weeds around the tree or shrub. The mulch is placed on the soil surface over the tree or shrub root system, but not too close to the trunks of the shrubs or trees. Apply bark three to four inches deep. Avoid using impermeable mulches such as plastic and rock because they may impede or prevent root development, as they do not allow air or moisture to move into or out of the soil from above. Staking with two or three sturdy stakes is recommended for the first year or so. Using twine, tie loosely. Put white tree wrap on the trunk every fall and remove it in the spring. 

 Fertilizing is not usually needed for the first year in regular soil conditions, but if plants appear to need fertilizer during this time, use a complete slow-release fertilizer. A light pruning may be needed at planting time when balancing out the root to canopy area, but severe pruning or shaping should be postponed for at least one year after transplanting. Each plant has specific requirements on when and how much pruning is needed. Research this information via the UW-Master Gardener Extension or by asking a local greenhouse staff member. 

Bloch’s Farm is now closed for the season but feel free to call 920-294-6000 or e-mail with any questions. Visit our website online at and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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