Designing Beautiful Borders

How to Plant a Shrub

With the weather all over the place, the plants must be feeling as confused as I am! This time last week, we were in baking sunshine, whilst todays chill has kept me busy finding excuses not to mow the lawn. Spring is however finally here and it’s all go in the garden.

Now is a great time to plant shrubs. The ground is starting to warm up, and the soil is still moist.

Planting correctly is key to the success of any larger plant that you buy. Planting is a straight forward task, but there are a number of common mistakes people make. 

Planting shrubs

  • Dig a hole twice the size of the diameter of the pot and deep enough so that the plant sits at the same height as it did in the pot. It’s a common mistake for plants to be planted either too deep or too shallow. There are exceptions to this rule, so it's always worth consulting the label for planting advice.


  • Remove the plant from the pot and tease out any roots that are wrapping themselves around and around the rootball.

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  • Place the plant in the hole and rotate the plant until you get its best side facing you.
  • Backfill the hole with the excavated topsoil. It’s a good idea to mix a bit of granular fertiliser in with the topsoil, as you do this.
  • As you fill the hole, firm the soil to remove any pockets of air. For larger shrubs, you may need to use your feat! 

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  • Once the hole is filled, water thoroughly.
  • It's important not to plant the shrub in compost – compost biodegrades over time, causing the shrub to sink and water to collect around the trunk, which can lead to rot. Instead use compost as a mulch by spreading it under the crown of the plant. This will act as a source of nutrients as well as helping to prevent moisture loss.


Unless there has been substantial rain, you will need water larger plants until they establish themselves. Initially, this will involve a really decent water once a week until the weather tails off in autumn. The following year, a really good water during drought periods should be sufficient.