Tips for Planting

Skip to page navigation

Build healthy soil

  • Loosen soil 10-12 inches deep in planting beds, or 6-8 inches deep in lawn areas.
  • Mix 15-20% compost by volume thoroughly into the loosened soil.

Plant right

  • Remove any wrapping, pot, string, or wire from the plant’s root ball.
  • Untangle or cut circling roots, so roots will grow outward.
  • Dig a hole large enough to spread out the plant’s roots.
  • Form a mound at bottom of hole, and spread the roots over it. Make sure the stem of the plant is at the same height in the soil as it was in the pot or at the nursery.
  • Fill hole with water, then fill with soil, to help the fine roots make good contact with the wet soil. Water again after planting.
  • Check again to make sure the soil level at the plant’s stem is the same as it was in the pot or at the nursery. Planting too low or too high prevents healthy growth.
  • Plant new lawns, trees, and perennials during cool, rainy fall weather to encourage deeper roots before the next dry season.

Mulch and water wisely

  • Spread mulch around the plant at least as far out as the roots reach, but keep it an inch or so away from the plant’s stem.
  • In hot weather, watch new plants and water regularly through their first one to three summers. Once the roots are deep and well established, you’ll need much less water.

More Information

Choosing the Right Plants guide (pdf)

Right Plant Right Place (pdf)

The Plant List (pdf)

How to Water New Plants (pdf)

Questions? Call the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 or email