Tree & Shrub Planting Guide

Do-It-Yourself Planting can be a lot of fun, but there are some things you need to know before you start.

The Guide

Where: Know your plant’s sun and water needs, and mature size when you choose a location. Remember to contact before you dig.

When: The best times to plant trees or shrubs in Colorado are Spring (March 15th-June 15th) or Fall (September 1st- October 15th). New plantings do best in moderate temperatures.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sharp Shovel

  • Tape Measure

  • Tarp — using a tarp for your soil pile makes mixing and cleaning up much easier

  • Compost — Recommended: Myke (mychorrhizal fungi), used directly on the root ball, or liquid Fertilome Root Stimulator added to the water

  • Garden hose

  • Mulch — Shredded cedar & ‘Gorilla Hair’ mulch are best for wind resistance

  • Stakes, wire, tree straps, mallet (or post pounder if you have one) — Staking is only necessary for trees 6 feet or taller

  • Tree wrap


  • Soak the area one day before for easier digging.

  • Support plants from the bottom when moving — don’t lift by the trunk.

  • Lay the plant on its side and wiggle or cut off the container. Loosen circling roots with your fingers.

  • Measure depth and width of the root ball.

  • Dig a saucer-shaped hole EXACTLY AS DEEP and 3X THE WIDTH of the root ball. Leave a small mound of soil at the center for stability.

  • If you’re using Myke, apply to the root ball now.

  • Set your plant down so that the top of the ball is 1-2″ above the original soil level.

  • Mix original back-fill soil with compost in a blend of 1/3 compost:2/3 soil and gently tamp the blend around the roots.

  • Water slowly and thoroughly with a hose—adding more back-fill if the soil settles.

Proper Care

Mulching: Surround your new planting with a 2-4″ layer of mulch but make sure to leave a few inches clear around the trunk for airflow.

Staking: Trees more than 6 feet tall should be staked, but not for longer than one or two years. Use fabric straps to protect the bark and keep a slight sag in the wires for natural sway.

Watering: After the initial watering, new plants need water at least once a week. In the full heat of summer, you may need to water more often. Proper moisture is key — too much is just as bad as too little. Regular deep watering is better than frequent light watering. If you are not sure whether to water, there is a simple way to check:

Dig into the soil 8 inches out from the edge of the hole and 8 inches deep. Squeeze the soil in your hand — if the soil crumbles, it’s time to water. If it forms a ball, it’s okay for a while longer.

Don’t forget Winter water! We can have very dry winters in Colorado and plants still need moisture. Water once a month if we haven’t gotten enough rain or snow.

Feeding: Root stimulator is essential when planting and also we recommend a mild, balanced fertilizer, such as our Espoma all-purpose Plant-tone, during the first year.

Wrapping: Trees and shrubs can suffer from sunscald in our intense Winter sun. We recommend wrapping all newly planted trees in their first Winter. Use paper tree wrap around the trunk up to the lower branches. Apply the wrap in late Fall (early November) and remember to remove it in the Spring (mid-March).

If you have any other questions, please contact us! We are always happy to help!

180 views0 comments