How to Plant a Shrub

  • Post published:05/19/2010
  • Post comments:4 Comments
A $50 hole

In the olden days planting wisdom said you needed a $5 hole for a fifty cent plant.  Inflation is everywhere. Now when I guy my $35 Proven Winners Pinky Winky hydrangea I know I need at least a $50 hole. This was a lesson I gave my daughter last weekend when I learned she was much given to taking out a shovelful of soil, sticking a plant in and considering the job done.  My $50 hole is 24 inches square.  And it is none too big at that.

I couldn’t show the depth graphically, but this hole is 15 inches deep.


Having a $50 hole means you have room to fill in with good compost that has a little lime added to it. I also always add a handful of rock phosphate and greensand on general principles when I plant.

I mixed the compost with some of the soil and refilled the hole sufficiently so that when I put in the hydrangea the soil level in the pot is just slightly below the soil level in the lawn.   Sometimes it will be necessary to loosen the roots of your plant, but this time the roots were not pot bound at all.

As I fill in the enriched soil and tamp it down, I also water well.  You’ll notice that I did think ahead and put out a piece of plastic to hold the soil I removed from the hole so that I wouldn’t leave too much of a mess on the lawn.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea

All done. Pinky Winky joins the oak leaf hydrangea and Limelight that I planted last year. As they mature they will make a 25 foot long hedge of sorts.  I am slowly eliminating the lawn around these shrubs so that ultimately they will be underplanted with groundcovers. At the moment I have a swath of barren strawberry that is coming along.  Spring bulbs will come up through the ground cover.

Barren strawberry

Barren strawberry, Waldsteinia, has yellow strawberry-like flowers in May but the foliage is attractive all year long. I bought these native plants at Nasami Farm in Whately which is open Thursday through Sunday into early June.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Tinky Weisblat

    Think how much more expensive it would be if you had to hire someone to dig it! This is good stuff, Ms. Pat.

  2. Pat

    Tinky – thanks. I am the major hole digger at the End of the Road during the week, but Henry prefers to take over on the weekend.

  3. Jean

    Great tutorial, Pat. I like the piece of plastic on the grass; I never thought of that. My technique also involves building a little 3-4″ high berm of soil around the outer edge of the hole; that way, all the water gets directed toward the roots of the new shrub.

  4. Pat

    Jean – Building a berm is a great way to help the plant. I do have a slight indentation, but more would be better. Thanks.

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