How To Horticulture - Planting

Take your time when you select your plants, think about the conditions in your garden


  • What type of soil do you have?
  • Does your soil drain well?
  • Do you know the acidity of your soil? (take a look at the plants doing well in the area you live and do a little research on them, they'll give you a rough idea what the soil is like in the area.
  • Is your garden shady, sunny? You'll probably have a mixture of these conditions so you'll need to plan for different areas of your garden.
  • Think about the whole year in your garden, it's easy to go to a garden centre and buy the plants that look good, but that could result in one glorious week of flower in your garden and nothing happening the rest of the year.
  • Don't concentrate too much on flower also think about height, leaf colour, stem colour, plant structure, autumn colour, speed of growth, hardiness and ease of maintenance.

When your ready you can get started on the physical side of planting.


  1. If you are planting a large area it is worth rotavating the site first then spreading out compost over the rotavated surface.
  2. If you are spot planting or only planting a small area you do not need to rotavate.
  3. Set out your plants either by eye or from a plan, stand back regularly to adjust the positions of the plants, take care to place plants according to their mature sizes and not their current sizes.
  4. When you are happy with the layout of your plants you can begin planting by digging a hole (incorporate compost into the diggings if you did not previously spread it). The hole should be approximately twice the width and depth of the plants root ball.
  5. Place the plant into the hole and turn the plant so that its best side (face) is facing the direction at which it will be most viewed (you may need to stand back to see this properly).
  6. Fill the hole with the soil / compost mix that you dug up and firm it down with your heel, it should be firmed down hard but not so hard that you are stamping, just pushing, take care that you are firming the soil around the root ball and not the root ball itself).



It is the very fine fibrous roots that are used by the plant to take up water, minerals etc, these are delicate and should be handled with care, if too many of the fibrous roots are damaged, the plant will not survive.

If you are planting when the plant is dormant you will not need to water it, Spring and autumn planting may need some watering (depending on how wet the ground is), summer time planting may need watering everyday, possibly twice a day and should be regularly checked.

The compost you use will depend on the soil your planting into and the plants you are planting, for instance rhododendrons benefit from a slightly acid soil, so you should use an ericaceous compost. Lavender produces its scented oil in greater quantity when it is in a nutrient poor soil, so you may choose not to use an enriched compost for this purpose. As a rule of thumb most soils greatly benefit from adding rich organic matter, however if you are not sure ask the plant seller.

Younger plants are much cheaper and can cope with being pulled out of a pot and stuck in the ground much better than mature plants, however it is worth noting how quickly they grow, some plants are very slow growers. Professional planting schemes usually aim for maturity in around 3yrs.

Most of the growth plants put on in their first growing season after planting is root growth, once established they will grow above ground faster.

Feeding your new plants is not generally essential, but it will help to produce better fruit, flower and healthier growth. Granular feeds break down slowly and feed the plant over a period of time, this is best for Shrubs and trees that grow relatively slowly. Liquid feeds are available for plants to take up immediately but will quickly leach down through the soil out of the plants reach, these feeds are generally better for herbaceous plants which are relatively quick growing and have a fast take up and distribution of water and nutrients (check with the grower what type of feed is best for your plants).



  • Spade - preferably a small spade which will dig small holes with surprisingly greater speed and accuracy than a large spade.
  • Wheel barrow



  • Compost - the quantity and type of compost required will depend on the soil you are planting into as well as the plants you are planting.
  • Plants - a typical quantity within a garden would be around 4 per metre square of plant bed, however this can vary greatly according to the variety of plant as well as the style of garden.