89a0721f0dcbd08063969d9e004c37b6

Sometimes simple things are taken for granted. Fortunately, most of us eventually learn how to fold a shirt, peel an onion, replace a furnace filter, light a barbecue or even change a diaper.

Ron Vanderhoff
 
We learn these simple things because someone, somewhere along the way took the time to show us. Before we were shown, we probably did it wrong.
 
With that said, I should tell you all that I still can't play a DVD on my television without my wife's help; even though she's shown me at least ten times.
 
Sometimes we never get shown how to do certain simple things. We plod along, doing these things incorrectly, ignorant of our own incompetence. It wasn't long ago that I assumed hot water was always best for washing clothes. I still assume a flush beats a full house in poker.
 
In our gardening pursuits how many of us have ever been shown how to dig a planting hole - one of the most fundamental skills. I suspect most gardeners just picked up a shovel one day and started digging and pretty much do it the same way today that they did twenty or thirty years ago. They've never been shown.
 
Size of the Hole
One of the most common misconceptions is that a planting hole should be about as deep as it is wide. Furthermore, it the soil is heavy clay, most gardeners dig the hole even deeper. In fact, almost all planting holes should be much wider than they are deep, especially those in clay soils. For better drainage and root growth, a planting hole should be dug about three or four times as wide as the container and just slightly deeper. A shallow, wide hole is best.
 
How to Dig a Hole
 
Shape of the Hole
The hole should be round, right? Of course shovels have rounded backs which make the "round-hole" assumption almost automatic. But in fact, planting holes should be irregular in their outline, with jagged edges, creases and pointed corners. Round, smooth-sided planting holes might be easier to dig, but they discourage the roots from exiting the planting hole and penetrating the native soil around it. Rather than circling round and round, as roots are encouraged to do in a round planting hole; a hole with jagged, irregular edges will encourage the roots to break the confines of the hole and set off into the native soil.
 
How to Dig a Hole
 
Watering
The final instruction in my hole-digging lesson is to water the hole first, before planting. Most people dig the hole, install the plant, add the soil mixture back into the hole and then go get the hose. But, it is better to fill the hole with water now, while it is empty, and then proceed with the planting after the water has completely drained. This has two advantages. First, it lets you measure how good the drainage is in the area. If the water drains through the hole at less than an inch per hour, most plants are going to fail without more complex adjustments; but that's another article. Secondly, by soaking the hole first, when the planting is finished and the final irrigation is given, the drier surrounding soil will not wick the water away from the rootball, a common occurrence.
 
How to Dig a Hole
 
Any complete instruction of shrub or tree planting should also include soil amendments, placing the plant at the correct height in the hole, irrigation wells, checking the rootball for matted roots, plant handling and more. But first, the hole must be dug.
 
So there it is, after twenty of thirty years of planting trees and shrubs, you've finally been properly instructed on how to dig a hole. Good digging.
 
Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar.
 
Questions from Readers December 26th.
Question:
 
Unfortunately, I had to remove a large tree recently and I had the stump ground as well. The company left behind the stump and root shavings. Are these okay for planting?
 
Beverly, 
Newport Beach
 
Answer:
 
No. the ground shavings from the stump grinding process are far too light and fluffy to support proper plant growth. They will also create a nitrogen deficiency as they slowly decompose in place over the next several years. Instead, these shavings should be removed from the area and can be added in moderation to a compost pile, along with some extra organic nitrogen fertilizer, until thoroughly decomposed. Otherwise, these shavings should be disposed of to a green-waste recycling location.

Plant Care Reminders

Pot Marigold Mohtly Plant Care
Herbs Coastal Sage Gardening

Marigold - Pot (Calendula officinalis) - Monthly Plant Care Reminders

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Kahili Ginger Plant Care

Hedychium gardnerianum (Kahili Ginger) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) - Monthly…

10556 Coastal Sage Gardening
Basil Monthly Plant Care

Monkey Flower (Mimulus spp ) - Monthly…

9137 Pat Hammer
Mimulus Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Hedera helix (English Ivy) - Monthly…

15130 Pat Hammer
English Ivy Monthly Plant Care
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Rootbound Pot
Container Gardening Nellie Neal

Rootbound...Future Unknown

I find most general gardening explanations to be either confusing or decidedly unhelpful, rather like the instructions for changing the transmission of my Datsun back in 1980.
House Wren
Habitat Gardening Ron Vanderhoff

Whose Garden is it anyway, mine or the Wrens?

At the time, I was watering a young plant that I had just put in the ground.

Plant a Native Wildflower Garden

16183
Phacelia campanularia
Spring used to mean wildflowers. I remember, as a young boy, exploring the hills around…

The Year in Gardening, 2008

5781
Ron's Garden
Like gardens themselves, the practice of gardening is forever changing, never the same…

Tom Piergrossi - Southwest

18818
Tom Piergrossi
Region: Southwest

Plant Recommendations

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
Plant Recommendations Tiger Palafox

Flowering Perennials - Southern California

Tiger Palafox's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Flowering Perennials for Southern California.
Eriogonum spp
Plant Recommendations Dave Ehrlinger

California Native Plants - Southern California

Dave Ehrlinger's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite California Native Plants for Southern California.

Tropical Flowering Vines from Bulbs -…

14183 jim threadgill
Jim Threadgill
Jim Threadgill's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Tropical Flowering Vines from Bulbs…

Trees - Southern California

5253 Bill Homyak
Chorisia speciosa
Bill Homyak's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Trees for Southern California.

Trees for Southern California by Walter…

18051 walter andersen
Cassia leptophylla
Walter Andersen's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Trees for Southern California. 

Featured Plant Care

Tomato Monthly Plant Care

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Lemon Tree Monthly Plant Care

Lemon Tree - (Citrus limon) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Phaleanopsis Plant Care

Phaleanopsis (Moth Orchid) Plant Care

in Orchids
Orchids are as easy as A - B - C!
Blueberry Monthly Plant Care

Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum x ashei var. Southern Highbush) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

in Edibles
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Latest Articles

Peach Leaf Curl

Peach Leaf Curl - Information Hub

Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their…
Avocado Information Hub

Avocado - Growing and Plant Care Information Hub

in Edibles
We're bringing relevant information about Avocados (Persea americana) to one fantastic…

Popular Articles

Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!
Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)

Upcoming Events

View All Events

Who's Online

We have 5894 guests and no members online