Fall and winter are the best times for Georgians to add new trees, shrubs and bushes to their landscapes.
Balled and burlapped trees and bushes do best if they are planted in the fall or winter, and bare root plants should only be planted in the dead of winter. Fall and winter are the most ideal times to install a new plant because the cold gives the plant more time to develop strong roots before the heat of summer.
The key to a plant’s survival is prep work. The first year of a plant’s growth should concentrate on root establishment. Dig a planting hole that is two to three times the diameter of the root ball. The loose dirt that surrounds the plant will encourage it to extend its roots.
While digging the hole, keep in mind the depth does not need to be deeper than the depth of the container or root ball. The top of the root ball should be level with the ground. Make sure there is a firm base at the bottom of the hole so the root system does not slip deeper into the ground. Water the tree well to make sure all the dirt has settled.
You may want to add tree supports if you are planting a larger tree and you think it might lean. These supports should be used only during the time it takes the tree to become established. Adding a layer of mulch around the tree is a must. Mulch should be 3-4 inches deep. Only about 1 inch of mulch should be placed against the trunk. Mulch all the way out to the edge of the planting hole. This keeps weeds from sprouting and insulates the roots from extreme temperatures.
During the first year, fertilization is not required, but make sure the plant gets about an inch to 1½ inches of water, once or twice a week. If you use a soaker hose, water until the top 8-10 inches of soil is good and wet.