Hand-Planting Guidelines for Bare-root Trees and Shrubs

Bare-root plants are one-to three-year-old nursery stock that are dug, stored and shipped without soil or potting mix surrounding their roots. Bare-root plants are inexpensive, easy to plant, and offer field grown hardiness. They are an excellent choice for many hardwoods and some conifers used in conservation applications such as windbreaks, shelter-belts, living snow fences, buffers, riparian channel stabilization projects, reforestation programs, wildlife habitat enhancement plantings, xeriscapes, and more. Proper planting of bare-root seedlings is one critical step in a successful conservation planting that includes a good design, proper site selection and preparation, appropriate species selection, quality nursery stock, suitable temporary storage and handling, correct planting and frequent, long term maintenance.

Here are the 12-step plus ONE for successful installation of your bare-root plants:

Step 1: Store seedlings properly prior to planting. Keep plant roots moist and stored in cool dark place.

Step 2: Plant on cloudy, cool, humid days.

Step 3: Remove only enough seedlings from storage that can be planted in a specific area or allotted time frame.

Step 4: Inspect each seedling prior to planting and discard unhealthy plants.

Step 5: Keep roots moist (not saturated) and protected from wind and sun at all times!

Step 6: Dig hole wide and deep enough to accept all roots.

Step 7: Properly place the seedling in the hole, roots vertical and fully extended, root collar at or slightly below grade.

Step 8: Back-fill with loose soil.

Step 9: Saturate with water to remove air pockets. Add more soil and water if settling occurs.

Step 10: Lightly firm the soil with your foot.

Step 11: Install weed barrier, tree shelters, and windscreens to enhance survival and growth.

Step 12: Provide frequent maintenance

plus one: always call your local utility company before digging.


Information for these planting guidelines provided by NRCS

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