Planting Tips


The most important step in planting is to select the proper plant for your site.  Examine the planting site conditions such as sun and wind exposure, soil type, and drainage.  From this information we can help you select the appropriate plant material for your location.

Planting can be accomplished at most times of the year as long as soils are not frozen or overly waterlogged.  Spring and fall generally present the easiest transplant conditions with good moisture present and little to no excessively high temperatures.  In fall, soil tends to be moist and warm enabling new plants to establish quickly.  Planting in hot and dry summer months is still possible but requires more work from the gardener to maintain the plants with supplemental water.

In general, the planting hole should be 12 inches wider and 2-3” shallower than the root ball or container (These measurements will be less for smaller plants but never bury a plant in the hole too deeply).  Poor soils should be amended with organic matter at a rate of approximately 1/3 organic matter to 2/3 soil. In heavy clay soil where poor drainage is evident, sand may also be added to the backfill at the rate of 1/3 sand to 1/3 organic matter to 1/3 soil.  All amendments should be mixed thoroughly with existing soil to create a uniform mixture.


The plant should be planted flush with ground level or slightly above ground level.  Having the plant’s root flair more than 3” above ground level is not recommended in most cases.  Check the depth of a hole before setting the root ball in it.  Some are very heavy and difficult to remove from a hole that needs adjustment.  Measure twice plant once!

Before setting the plant in the hole, remove the plastic container OR set balled and burlapped transplants directly in the hole without opening the burlap or strings.  Check container plants for spiraling roots which will need to be loosened and not allowed to continue in a spiraling shape.  Spiraling roots will cause a plant to strangle itself later on.  After a balled and burlapped transplant is in the hole remove the strings around the trunk and open the burlap.  Fold the burlap and top portion of the wire basket (if present) downward into the hole.  It is recommended with evergreen trees to plant the root ball with the burlap and strings left intact.  This helps hold the tree straight during wind events until the tree takes root in its new home.  Most string and burlap being used in nursery production currently is biodegradable so it can be left on the transplant when planted. 


Backfill appropriately so that there are no air pockets left around the plant’s root ball.  After backfill is completed water the plant thoroughly.  Consider using products that stimulate new root growth when watering in your new plant.  Add a 2-3” layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect the root zone from drying out and reduce the chance of weed growth.  The mulch should be no more than 1” thick where it contacts the base of the plant.  Too much mulch around the trunk can be detrimental to plant health.


Improper watering is the number one cause of plant failure in the first year.  Generally young plants need the equivalent of one inch of rain water per week.  Water two to three times per week as needed to supplement natural rainfall during the plant’s first year after transplant.  DO NOT OVERWATER.  This can cause a failed plant just like a lack of water can.  Use of sprinklers for tree and shrub watering is generally not acceptable.  Sprinkler water does not penetrate deeply enough into the root zone for bigger plants such as trees and shrubs.  Recommended watering methods would include using a hose on low pressure to trickle water on each plant for 10-15 minutes (less time per plant for small plants)or a soaker hose system installed around new plants which can be turned on for 30-60 minutes during each watering.  Heavy fertilization is not recommended for new tree or shrub transplants.  Light fertilization with a liquid fertilizer or an organic granular fertilizer will maintain an adequate nutrient supply during the first season.  Feeding annuals and perennials once every 7-14 days with liquid fertilizer is essential to keeping them looking good all season.

During winter months and drought periods, the use of anti-transpirant reduces the risk of damage from dehydration and stress on plant material.  This is especially true for broadleaf evergreen plants.

Good luck planting!

Plant Replacement Policy*

Cerbo’s Nurseries provide the best plant materials available handled by procedures that have been demonstrated to provide both plant viability and future growth.  As an assurance of your planting’s viability we provide you with the following plant replacement policy:

For a period of 365 days from the date of purchase, should it be determined that the plant material is in a terminal condition, then Cerbo’s will replace that plant material** at one-half price with the following conditions:

  1. All care procedures are properly followed. Plant care instructions are listed in this pamphlet.
  2. Cerbo’s must be informed immediately of a stressed plant. Stressed plants frequently respond to modified care procedures.  Claims for completely dead plants where there has been no prior notifications as required herein will not be honored.
  3. Due to the availability of plants, substitutions of equal value may be necessary.
  4. Replacements shall be made depending upon the growing season. Cerbo’s reserves the right to determine the best time to replace plant materials.  Springtime replacements will be done after June 1st to give the plants in question ample time to recover/rebud before making the final assessment of a dead plant.
  5. This shall be a one-time replacement.

*Excludes greenhouse, annuals, and perennials.  Plant replacement policy for trees and shrubs only.

**If Cerbo’s was hired to install the plant material then the plant will be replaced at no charge.

Ground Covers

Mulches can benefit your garden by keeping moisture in the root system and preventing weed growth.  Cerbo’s carries a wide selection of mulch types in two or three cubic foot bags.  Bulk mulches are available too as well as stone products that can be used instead of mulch (use of weed mat recommended for stone products).

Soil/Mulch Coverage

Cu. Yd. Soil/Mulch                Depth     Sq. Ft. Covered

                1                              1”                            324

                1                              2”                            162

                1                              3”                            108

Cubic Yards Required per sq. ft.

 500 sq ft1,000 sq ft2,000 sq ft
1” depth1.5 cu yd3.1 cu yd6.2 cu yd
2” depth3.1 cu yd6.2 cu yd12.3 cu yd
3” depth4.6 cu yd9.3 cu yd18.5 cu yd

Ground Coverage Chart for Plants

SpacingPlants per sq ftArea Covered per 50 plants
8”2.2522.2 sq ft
10”1.4434.7 sq ft
12”150 sq ft