Planting & Maintenance

Planting Guidelines

  • Hole should be 1½ times the width of the container and slightly deeper then the depth of the container
  • Backfill with a mixture of existing soil and ⅓ compost or manure
  • Make sure tree or shrub us planted at the same depth as it was in the container (ensure top of the root ball is covered with soil so it doesn’t dry out)
  • Pack lightly to eliminate air pockets
  • Water well after planting and use a transplant fertilizer (i.e.10-52-10)
  • Newly planted trees and shrubs should be thoroughly watered frequently
Plastic Containers (pots)

Remove container prior to planting.

Fiber Containers (pots)

Remove rim of the pot and make three vertical cuts down the sides of the pot before planting.  Leave the rest of the pot intact around the root ball of the tree or shrub when planting.

Balled and Burlap

Cut or loosen twine from around the base of the trunk, fold back the burlap, ensuring the burlap around the root ball stays intact.  Remaining string and wire should be left in place when planting.

Once the tree or shrub has been planted and the soil has been packed, build a water basin around the base of the tree.  This will allow water to collect and slowly soak in around the base of the tree.  Around the perimeter of the hole, create a circle by hilling soil to a height of 2-3” (5-8cm) – this creates a basin that will help keep soil moist during establishment.  Apply a layer of mulch to help retain moisture and retard weed growth.


Staking a tree provides support needed to secure the rootball while the tree set down new roots.  Shrubs do not need to be staked.  Staking trees is recommended in the following cases:

  • very windy, exposed planting site
  • if the tree cannot stand up on it’s own
  • if the root ball is small in relation to the height of the tree or width of the crown – tree is top heavy
  • if the soil is unstable – water logged 

To stake a tree place two stakes parallel to prevailing winds or if the tree is taller 3m or more use 3 stakes with guy wires.  Make sure you do not drive stakes through the root ball and use a material to tie the tree that will not damage the bark or branches.  

Staking should not prevent a tree trunk and canopy from moving as this will weaken the tree.  Staking is a temporary measure and should be taken off after one to two years.  


After you have planted your new tree or shrub, water it in with a starter fertilizer.  A fertilizer which is high in phosphorous (10-52-10 or 5-15-5) will help the development of a strong, vigorous root system which is necessary for good growth and production.  Apply starter fertilizer 3 times at 2 week intervals after planting.

Once tree and shrubs become established, regular applications of 28-14-14 or 30-10-10 can be applied.  Do not fertilize tree, shrubs or perennials after July 30.  Late summer or fall fertilization may stimulate new growth that may be killed in the winter.  If you plant after this date you can still use a transplant fertilizer when planting new plants.


Newly planted trees and shrubs should be thoroughly watered frequently.  

All trees and shrubs should be watered regularly while becoming established.  For established trees reduce watering from early August to mid-October as this will allow the tree to harden off and prepare the plants for winter.  Give plants a heavy watering in mid-October so they go into winter with as much moisture around the root system as possible.  

Once trees are established they become more able to tolerate drought.  Therefore, watering frequency can be tapered off.  Keep in mind that if there is a prolonged drought, trees should be given supplemental water.

Shallow rooted specimens such as Spruce and Birch require more water than other species.  They benefit from a really good soaking in the spring and in the fall as well as require supplemental watering during hot/dry spells and periods of drought.

During Chinooks, watering plants has little benefit because the ground is frozen.  However if temperatures climb well above freezing, evergreens can be sprayed down with water.  



Annual pruning may be required for certain species.  To avoid unnecessary pruning, choose appropriate trees for the allotted space.  

Maintenance pruning of established trees consists of removing dead, damaged or diseased branches, crossing/rubbing branches, water sprouts from the trunk and main branches, suckers from the base of the plant and thinning/heading back of younger branches to maintain the desired shape/size.  If fall or winter pruning must be done, restrict to times when temperatures are above –15° C (0° F).  


Newly planted hedges, such as Cotoneaster, can be pruned at the time of planting to encourage strong root growth and a stronger branching system at the base. As the hedge develops, trim so the base of the plant is wider than the top. This ensures that ample amounts of sunlight and moisture to reach the base.  Hedges can be sheared throghout the growing season.

Shrubs (Spring Flowering)

Pruning of early flowering shrubs, such as Nanking Cherry, should be done immediately after flowering.  This will provide stronger wood and dormant buds for the following year’s display.

Shrubs (Summer & Fall Flowering)

Since these shrubs flower on current season’s growth, pruning should be done in early spring (before new growth appears) or in the fall (after the leaves have dropped).  Pruning at this time is also easier as it lets you get a clear view of the structure of the plant.

***When pruning young shrubs it is best to trim a few branches down to ground level, forcing the plant to thicken from the base.  


Annual pruning at an early age is the most practical means for containing and maintaining a specific shape.  

For pines and spruce, shorten the new growth (candles) in the spring before their needles begin to spread and are still soft.  The new growth can be cut back by as much as half.  Any other pruning can be done throughout the summer.

Cedars, junipers and cypress can be pruned throughout the summer.