DIY Landscape Installation

Western Region

Planning to add trees and shrubs to your landscape? You don’t need to hire a professional when you know how to do it yourself (DIY). Master Nursery® is here to provide you with the products and information needed to give you confidence and ensure your success with a DIY landscape installation.

Soil Preparation

It all starts here! Preparing your soil is the single most important factor in guaranteeing the health and longevity of your new plantings. We highly recommend amending your native soil with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Conditioner before planting. This product is a quality blend of natural and organic ingredients designed to improve the structure of your native soil.  This versatile mix is ideal for all trees and shrubs. Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Conditioner adds organic matter into the soil to improve aeration, assists drainage of compacted soils, and improves soil nutrient-holding capacity.


When planting your trees and shrubs, dig the planting hole twice as wide but only as deep as the root ball. Prepare your excavated native soil properly by incorporating a generous amount, usually one-third to two-thirds of the native soil volume, with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Conditioner.

Planting Container-Grown Trees & Shrubs

Remove your plant from the container gently, without pulling on venerable stems or foliage. Squeezing the container all around can help loosen the root ball so it slides out more easily, or the container may be thin enough to cut away.

Because the plant was grown in a container, its roots may have been restricted by the shape of the container. Loosen the roots all the way around, even on the bottom. If the root system is too tight to loosen with your fingers, cut through the roots slightly with a knife or pruning shears. Make three or four one-inch deep cuts; then gently pull the roots apart.

Center the plant in the prepared hole, keeping the roots spread out. Make sure that the root ball is slightly above grade, about an inch or so is best.

Planting Field-Grown Trees & Shrubs

If you are transplanting a tree or shrub that has been field grown, it will be either caged in a wire basket or balled and burlapped. These methods are used to protect the plant root ball for transport. When planting, center the plant in the prepared hole, 1-3 inches above the grade. Cut and remove all cords or twine from the root ball and trunk. Burlap should be peeled away from the trunk and cut away from the ball. Synthetic burlaps are sometimes used and do not decompose readily. The upper half of wire baskets should be cut away from the root ball with wire cutters. You may leave the lower half around the root ball.  If the upper portion of the wire basket is left in place, it will cause root girdling, eventually killing the plant.

Note: Be certain to move trees carefully. Do not carry or pull your tree by the trunk; rather, roll the root ball on its side and “steer” it into the hole with the trunk. Straighten the tree upright in the hole, checking it from different angles to be sure it is fully upright before backfilling.

Completing the Planting

For both container-grown and balled and burlapped or caged (wire basket) plant material, backfill the planting hole with the native soil that you mixed with Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Conditioner and pack firmly. Make a rim of raised soil around the plant approximately an inch or two beyond the root ball. This will act as a “saucer” for directing water exactly where it is needed most.

Water plants thoroughly, soaking the soil with a slow drip from your hose. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around your new planting, keeping it about 3 inches away from the trunk to prevent rot.

Staking Container & Field Grown Trees and Shrubs

When larger trees or shrubs are planted, they are not yet firmly established in their new locations and may tip or lean as the soil settles. For larger trees, use three wires secured to anchor stakes in firm ground (never into the root ball). Where the wires touch the tree, they should be covered with rubber hose to prevent damage. Remove stakes as soon as roots become established; we recommend one year.

New Plant Care

All newly planted trees and shrubs need gentle care as they settle into their new locations. To keep them healthy and encourage good initial growth…

  • Water Properly
    Plants should be slowly soaked to a depth of 4 inches, which is the equivalent of about an inch of water per week. This is necessary during the first year or two. Let the hose run slowly at the base of the plant until the water has penetrated to the root depth. Too much water can also be a problem. Feel the soil. If it is soggy or squishy, do not add water. Frequent light watering is not as good as a thorough soaking once per week, which will encourage strong root growth.
  • Fertilize Appropriately
    Your new plants should be given a root stimulator type fertilizer; we recommend Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Starter Food right after planting. This product is a blend of natural ingredients formulated to help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots and sturdy growth. Its gentle, non-burning formula is safe to use with even the most tender transplants. You should not use a fertilizer meant for mature plants on new plantings as it could cause damage. After the first season, a fertilizer such as Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® All Purpose Food may be used.

The investment of adding trees and shrubs to your landscape will not only enhance the enjoyment of your environment but will also greatly increase your property value. Also, DIY landscape installation won’t be as intimidating since you now understand planting basics. Master Nursery® is always here to help with the products and information that you need for your garden and landscape success.  See our Store Locator to find a garden center near you.

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Related Products

Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Soil Conditioner
Western Region
Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® All Purpose Food
Western Region
Eastern & Midwestern Regions
Master Nursery® Bumper Crop® Starter Food
Western Region
Eastern & Midwestern Regions