Step 1: Do a Level Check
Dig a circular hole as for container-grown trees. Lay a cane across the hole and use it to check that the dark soil mark on the stem of the tree is just above it.
Step 2: Hold Upright
Hold the tree upright—or, better, get someone else to hold it—and backfill the hole with soil, a little at a time, firming it in and around the roots with your fingers.
Step 3: Firm Soil
Once the hole is filled, start firming with your heel from the edge to reduce the risk of the soil sinking and the planting level becoming too low.
Step 4: Water
Water in well, then check the level again and fork over to fill any dips. There is no need to scatter fertilizer. In fact, this is more likely to cause harm by burning the roots, which will then not be capable of taking up nutrients for at least the first year.
Step 5: Stake at an Angle
Knock a short stake into the ground at an angle of 45 degrees. Secure the trunk to the stake using a buckle-and-spacer tree tie that allows for the stem to increase in girth without chafing. Check it at least twice during the growing season as the tree matures, and loosen if it becomes too tight.
Step 6: Spread Mulch
Mulch around the tree using a fibrous, open-textured material, such as well-rotted compost. Spread it in a layer 21⁄2–3 in (5–6 cm) deep, but do not let it come in contact with the tree stem, where the moisture may cause rot.
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