planting trees and shrubs - landscaping
Updated: February 22, 2023

Soil building and fertility

  • Perform a soil test every 3-4 years and follow fertilizer and liming recommendations.
  • Ask Extension experts at the Home and Garden Information Center or your local Extension office for help interpreting the results.
  • Fertilize, only as needed, to maintain vigor.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing plants, as it can lead to pest problems.
  • Incorporate organic matter in flower and vegetable beds on a regular basis.
  • Read more about soil basics.


  • Apply mulch at a maximum depth of 3" and never against the trunk of a tree.
  • Maintain even soil moisture. 
  • Prevent weed growth and soil erosion.
  • Protect plant roots and crowns from winter damage.
  • Read more about mulch.

Manage runoff and pollution from impervious surfaces

  • Direct water flow away from pavement and toward a well-vegetated area.
  • Improve existing water infiltration by incorporating organic matter into lawns and planting beds.
  • Consider using pervious paving options for driveways and entertainment areas.

Watering trees and shrubs

  • Avoid overhead watering and splashing soil onto plants.
  • Water trees and shrubs slowly and deeply. Remember that the root zone can extend out 2 to 3 times the height of the tree, well beyond the dripline. Check the depth of soil moisture after irrigation by digging a small hole or inserting a stick.
  • Use drip irrigation and soaker hoses where practical.

 Remove or mow weeds 

  • Weeds rob plants of moisture and nutrients and are alternate hosts for pests and diseases.
  • Learn to identify and manage weeds.

Other cultural practices

  • Prune to increase air circulation.
  • Avoid accidental root pruning through hoeing and tilling.
  • Don’t work with plants when foliage or soil is wet.
  • Use row covers to prevent pest problems in vegetable gardens. 

 Garden sanitation

  • Remove and dispose of diseased or infested plant parts and dead plants.
  • Rake up and dispose of diseased leaves and fruits.
  • Clean up and compost garden debris in the fall.

 Growing healthy transplants

  • Use soil-less media.
  • Use clean, sanitized seedling flats and plant containers.
  • Do not over-water.
  • Acclimatize transplants that are grown indoors by slowly introducing them to outdoor conditions.
  • Protect new transplants and seedlings from cutworms and slugs with paper collars.