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Planting Root Ball Advice

29 Jan 2021
Planting Root Ball Advice - Web Garden Centre

Root Ball Planting guide

Key points to remember when planting Root Balls:

The hessian wrap should be kept on when planting as it provides support and protection for the roots. It will decompose completely over time.

Until the plant is fully established, which can take up to two years, consistent and thorough watering is crucial to the success of the plant. During the spring after planting pay particular attention to signs that the plants are not getting enough water such as wilting or yellowing of leaves. Although it is possible to over-water, drought is the more likely cause of plant death.

Planting conditions:

It is advised to avoid planting during or after a period of heavy rain as the soil will be too compacted and water logged for new roots to establish. If conditions are not suitable for planting it is fine to keep them for a short period of time, as long as they are kept moist and stored in a sheltered area.

Do not plant in heavy frost or windy weather as this may cause damage to the roots and impact upon plant success.


Planting Guide

Preparing the ground is a vital step to ensure the best start for your root ball plants.

  • Dig trench or a series of holes for your plants. These should be as deep as the root ball and at least twice the width. Use a fork to loosen the surrounding soil to aid drainage and encourage root development.


  • It is important when planting root balls to ensure that the hole/trench is not too deep. The root ball should be covered but the stems of the plant need to be above the soil level.


  • Enrich the soil using multi-purpose compost or well-rotted manure. In addition to this, we recommend the use of Rootgrow as it aids water and nutrient retention improving the success rate.


  • Prior to planting drench each root ball and half fill each hole/trench with water and allow to drain away.


  • Place plants into the trench / hole and back-fill with the enriched soil and firm in. Water for a second time. Allow the water to fully drain away before adding 5cm layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This helps the soil retain moisture and suppresses weed growth.


Common Problems that impact upon root ball success rate

  • Under watering (or over watering)


  • Severe frosts or flooding during the first year of planting


  • Root ball planted too deep


These issues cause stress to the plant and which can result in defoliation, die back or leaves turning yellow or brown. In the event of these occurring we advise performing a search test on the tree. Using either your thumbnail or a small knife scrape a small part of the outer bark from a branch. Beneath the bark is a green layer, referred to as the Cambuim. The presence of this indicates the plant is living.

It is also common for evergreen root ball plants to defoliate during the first period of warm, dry weather although this may not be aesthetically pleasing these are not an indicative of plant death.

In the event of any issues occurring plants should be given adequate time to recover. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us as soon as possible.

Watering Root Balls

Root Ball plants are susceptible to drying out if they are not watered regularly, particularly during the first growing season or until they have fully established their root system. Rather than allowing the plant to dry out between watering it is important to keep the ground moist at all times. Drench the root balls at regular intervals rather than watering little and often.

It is easy to underestimate watering required for root balls. Even if it has rained it may not have been sufficient to reach the plants root system. So be sure to check if the underlying soil is damp before deciding against watering.

It is important to note that root ball plants do normally have a 10% failure rate, however the success rate can be vastly improved when planting with Rootgrow and consistent care and attention.

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