Container grown plants are able to be planted out almost all year round, however in dry weather good soil preparation is key to ensuring that your plants survive and grow quickly.
For a few shrubs or trees, you can dig single holes, however if you are planting a hedge or a row of plants it is easier to dig a trench. You should dig the hole a bit too deep and then mix in compost, manure and/or mycorrizal products. Once these items are mixed firm the area down so that this does not settle later once the items are planted.
The hole that is firmed should only be as deep as the root ball of the plant; therefore the stem should not be deeper in the soil than it was in the pot. Wider holes or trenches will help your plants grow better, aim to make the hole two to three times the width of the original pot.
Clean the soil that you remove while digging the hole to eliminate rubbish, old roots, perennial weeds, large stones and break up chunks of earth. The smoother and softer the soil is the faster your plants will establish a good root system.
Water the plants in their pots prior to planting so that the root ball is wet. Remove the plant by turning the pot upside down and tapping the plant out, holding it by the root ball. If there is a large root system, gently pull the outer roots out of the ball and spread them out in the hole.
Return the cleaned soil in around the plant until the hole is around 1/3rd full. Lightly firm the soil around the root ball and make sure the plant is upright before filling in the rest of the soil.
Once the plant has been placed in the ground, water the area again. Final apply a thick layer of mulch to cover the planting area. Good mulch can be almost any well rotted plant matter. Mulch is not necessary, however it will protect the soil’s moisture when you go away for a weekend, suppresses weeds and over time helps to condition the soil. Remove weeds as they appear and remember to water in dry weather.
During the hot days of summer you would think that your plants need to be watered during the high sun, actually this is one of the worst times of day to water your plants/lawn. The best time of the day to water is early morning before the temperatures begin to rise. This gives the plants a good supply of water to face the heat of the day. If it is not possible to water during this time very late afternoon is a good alternative.
Summer is also a time of water restrictions, this does not mean that your plants will not get the water that they need, and instead it will force you to re-evaluate the best method and frequency that is required. For established plants, deep, infrequent watering is recommended and providing an inch of water per week on top of any rain is sufficient.
Do not overwater your plants by watering them every day. Your aim is to maintain soil moisture not to make a swamp. Soak the soil well each time you water it and enjoy a beautiful summer garden.