How To Plant Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

By: Julie Day


Make sure the root ball isn’t too deep.

Step 6: Fill Holes Around Trees and Shrubs

  • Add Dirt to Holes: Backfill the dirt around the plants in stages, taking time to tamp down each layer.
  • Add Soil Amendments: Incorporate a few shovelfuls of soil conditioner and a sprinkling of bone meal in with the soil. Don’t overdo it, as plants grow best when the surrounding soil is similar to the landscape soil.
  • Fill Holes: When backfilling the holes, don’t pile dirt on top of the root ball. Instead, keep it the same depth, or slightly shallower, than it was in the pot.
  • Mound Soil: Use extra soil to make a small donut-shaped mound around your plant, to help hold water. If your plants are on a slope, you can also use excess soil to make a small barrier to slow runoff.

Planting Tip

Most gardeners like to overdo it to make sure plants have the richest growing environment. But if you dig a hole in poor or compacted earth and plant your tree or shrub in a small pocket of rich potting soil, it will behave as though it’s growing in a pot and won’t spread out or thrive. If your soil is in really bad condition, you’re better off tilling and improving the whole area before planting.

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4 Comments on “How To Plant Container Grown Trees and Shrubs”

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  • Janet Wilkinson Says:
    September 5th, 2015 at 3:41 am

    I have just been given an Azalea. I have clay soil & a with a south facing garden. As I understand they like acid soil was wondering whether to grow it in a tub. So was looking for some advice!



  • LYNN SHEPPARD Says:
    October 30th, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Hi, looking for perfect unity planting tree for my daughter to plant at her wedding, possibly tree will live in a container for a couple of years and then be planted in the couples yard later. Tree is a symbol of longlasting love with proper nourishment for longetivity and will be memorable of beginning their life together. They will live in Atlanta Ga. for a while.
    Please help!



  • Julie Day Says:
    April 2nd, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Pat, in the demonstration photos, I am planting ‘Otto Luyken’ English laurels. They are gorgeous evergreen shrubs, one of my favorite choices for foundation plantings! In Step 1 there is an azalea (the lighter green shrub) to the left of the Otto Luykens. The photo in Step 9 features a blooming crape myrtle.



  • Pat Says:
    March 31st, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    The pictures are beautiful. Names of the shrubs would be great.


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