How to Plant Bareroot Trees Hard and Rocky Soil
Rocky soil contains water and nutrients. But here, the water and nutrients are not accessible for plants. Also, it is too compact to grow and establish roots. So, the plant cannot take the required nutrients and water to thrive successfully.
And you know bare-root trees have no existing soil around the roots. So, the bare root trees need better porous and aerate the soil to grow their roots rather than container-grown trees.
That doesn't mean it is impossible to plant bare-root trees in the hard and clay soil. We just need to improve the clay soil and make the moisture and nutrients accessible for the plants.
And in this article, I will guide you on how to improve the hard soil and plant bare-root trees step by step.
So, without further ado, let’s get started-
Site Selection and Preparation To Plant Trees
Select the site for planting the bare root trees based on the required amount of sun or shade. Because the tree won’t produce flowers or fruits without getting adequate sun or shade. Also, consider how much space it will take and how tall the tree will be.
You can’t move the tree after it is established. So, don’t select the site quickly without considering this.
Digging the Planting Hole
It’s the most difficult task to excavate the clay and rocky soil. Also, it is important. That’s because if the tree doesn’t get the optimum environment in the root zone, the roots won’t be established.
First, we need to choose the right tools for digging. You can use a garden auger or shovel. But the key thing is we have to dig a deeper and wider hole.
Dig a saucer-shaped hole that is wider at least twice than the plant root spread. Most of the vital roots stay under 6-12 inches. So, the depth of the hole should be deeper than 12 inches.
Also, consider that the bare root trees accommodate without root crowding, bending, or damage.
Improving the Clay Soil
Remove the large rocks and break the clods of the native soil. Breaking clods and compaction increase the porosity and air circulation in the soil.
Now it’s time to amend the clay soil. Sometimes the gardener just adds the sand to light the clay soil. But it’s wrong. It may turn the soil into cement. Rather adding organic matter is the best way to improve the clay soil.
Add green manure, leaf mold, livestock manure, worm castings, peat moss, or green plants to amend the clay soil. All are good organic items that can improve the soil structure by increasing nutrients, aeration, water retention, porosity, and drainage facilities.
Add 3-4 inches of any of those organic items to the existing native soil and mix them very well. You can also add some micronutrients or organic balanced fertilizer to the soil.
Backfilling and Cover with Organic Mulch
Fill the hole with the amended soil. Add water and cover the working areas with some composting materials such as bark, sawdust, grass clippings, fall leaves, or wood chips. And now wait 1 or 2 weeks. The process will improve the soil structure slowly.
You can ignore this step when you have already brought the bare root tree. Because it is wise to plant the bare root trees immediately.
5. Prepare the Plant
Remove all the wrapping from the trees. Fill the bucket and soak the plant in the water for a night or for a few hours.
Plant the Bare-Root Tree
Dig out the amended soil and place the bare root tree into the hole. Remember you have to plant at the original and previous soil level that is situated below the graft point.
Fill the hole and press the soil around the plants. Use the hand or toe of the boots to firm the soil. Also, adjust the tree trunk while filling the soil.
Now, apply plenty of water around the base of the plant until it drains away. Let the soil settle down. If the soil goes down after applying water, add extra soil. But never make a ridge of soil. It will pass away the applied water.
Mulching the Tree
It is important to use organic mulch. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch over the planting hole. It will keep the soil moist, maintain the optimum soil temperature. And thus it will provide slow-release plant nutrients after decomposing. Also, the mulch protects the trees from disease, weed, and rodent infestations.
Staking the Tree
You need to secure the trees by staking. It will increase the stability and strength of the plant. Poke a long stake into the soil and tie the stem with rope to the stake. Make sure the plant can’t move easily. Remove the stake when the roots are established and new growth emerges.
Now, it’s time to take good care of the plant. Clay soil tends to compact. So, loosen the soil regularly by using a garden fork or shovel without damaging the roots.
Don’t apply any fertilizer too early to the plant. Apply fertilizer after emerging some leaves. Soak water to the plant once or twice per week.
And I hope you will get a healthy and mature plant that will provide cooling shade, long-lasting blooms, or lots of flavorful and tasty fruits.