• Beds work better than individual holes for shrubs, perennials, and annuals. It’s simpler to maintain the plants and they’ll look better with other plants around them.
• Add organic matter, sand, and/or ground bark to enrich soils and improve drainage.
• If the soil is very dry, water it before planting. If it’s very wet, wait a day or two.
• Find out if your plant needs sun, shade, or something in between.
• Late afternoon shade is good for many perennials and annuals labeled for ‘full sun’.
• Keep up with the weather forecast. When possible, pick a cloudy day that is not windy.
• Plant late in the day and water then, too, if you can’t water in the morning.
• Careful with that root ball – squeeze plastic pots or tap clay ones if the ball does not slide out easily. Cut off or break the pot if you must, but gently unpot the plant.
• Loosen the soil around the roots. If they can be separated, good. If not, rough up the root ball all the way around – nubby gloves are great for this task.
• Dig a hole that is slightly deeper and wider than the root ball. Put some fertilizer in the hole, cover it with some soil, and put in the plant so it is at the same level it was growing in its pot. Or slightly higher for azaleas and dogwood trees.
• Water new plants well and use a root stimulator fertilizer.
• Mulch all new plantings.
• Beware Transplant Shock! Water regularly, but if plants wilt anyway, take action: clip off each growing tip and monitor daily. Do not overwater!
SHRUBS, TREES, ROSES, AND LAWNS need organic matter in their soil and Spring’s the time to give it to them. Use compost or composted manure to lay a half-inch blanket around each plant and all across the lawn. Work it into the top of the soil with a hard-tined garden rake. Mulch and fertilize as you always do.
TREES. Gray lichen looks like old-fashioned gathered lace growing on tree and shrub branches that tells you the plant is not growing as well as it could. Prune out the lichen and shape the branches to compensate. Fertilize and keep watered to restart the tree’s growth.
VINES. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) teaches children how sweet nectar tastes when they dissect the flowers. Sadly, it’s a seriously invasive plant! Cut Japanese honeysuckle and poison ivy vines at ground level now and when the first two leaves sprout from the base, spray or paint them with herbicide.
EDIBLES. Fertilize fruit trees if you have not already. Keep vegetables fertilized and watered to keep growth coming on at a steady rate. When the first tomato fruit or other vegetables are formed and growing, reduce fertilizer by half until they are picked.