How To Plant Container Grown Trees and Shrubs

Take the time to dig a proper size planting hole.

Step 4: Dig Planting Holes for Trees and Shrubs

The planting hole is the most important part! A wide planting hole encourages the roots to spread out and establish themselves faster.

  • Dig Hole: Your planting hole should be slightly shallower than the root ball, but at least three times as wide. The roots should rest on solid ground to keep the plant from sinking, with the top of the root ball about an inch above the soil level.
  • Enlarge Hole: If you’re ambitious, you can dig deeper around the edges, leaving a solid mound in the center of the hole for the root ball to rest on. If your soil is compacted, make sure to rough up the sides of the hole, so it doesn’t glaze over and act like a big clay container.


  1. Pat, in the demonstration photos, I am planting ‘Otto Luyken’ English laurels. They are gorgeous evergreen shrubs, one of my favorite choices for foundation plantings! In Step 1 there is an azalea (the lighter green shrub) to the left of the Otto Luykens. The photo in Step 9 features a blooming crape myrtle.

  2. Hi, looking for perfect unity planting tree for my daughter to plant at her wedding, possibly tree will live in a container for a couple of years and then be planted in the couples yard later. Tree is a symbol of longlasting love with proper nourishment for longetivity and will be memorable of beginning their life together. They will live in Atlanta Ga. for a while.
    Please help!

  3. I have just been given an Azalea. I have clay soil & a with a south facing garden. As I understand they like acid soil was wondering whether to grow it in a tub. So was looking for some advice!

  4. Was wondering if it is to late to plant shrubs in Denver Colorado, we are supposed to have a good 3 weeks left of 70 degree weather. If so what are good shrubs for a clay type soil in the fall?

  5. we would like shrubs 3-5 ft tall and 2-3 feet wide anyone got any specific names? for low maintenance fall planting clay soil?

  6. I have a azalea small tree in pot can I plant outside & leave it outside during winter months so it will bloom again in spring plants flowers all gone


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