Native plant installation

Prior to Installation:

  • After delivery, remove plants immediately from packaging and set them in a cool, semi-shaded area until you are ready to plant.
  • If the soil around the plant roots is dry, irrigate to keep the roots moist, but not saturated.
  • If watered properly and protected from extreme conditions, such as excessive heat, sun, strong winds, or frost or freezing conditions, plants should be fine in their original pots or plug trays for up to several weeks.
  • On site, it may be helpful to stage plants near the areas where they will be installed, to save time. During the planting process, protect bare-root trees, shrubs, and aquatic plants from heat, sun, and wind, to prevent the roots from drying out.

Upland Plant Installation: Install upland plants as you would any landscape materials. Because many native plants have an extensive tap root, take care during installation not to damage the roots.

For large-scale plantings, a gas-powered auger greatly speeds up the planting process. Select an auger bit slightly wider than the diameter of the container being planted, and pre-drill the planting holes at the recommended spacing. A crew can then follow behind and install plants.

A field crew installing wetland plants along a stream for natural erosion control.Wetland Plant Installation: In many wetland situations, the plant installation process is the same as for an upland area, but the process may be slower due to softer soils and the slower speed of planting. When planting in submerged areas, the most difficult aspect of installation is getting the plants to stay in place. If possible, use a pump or water control structure to lower the water level during installation and let the water level rise slowly.

If planting below the water line or in areas submerged due to water fluctuations, planting holes often immediately refill with water, causing soil and plants to float to the surface after planting. In these instances, after installing the plant under the soil surface, use stones, small wood stakes, steel turf staples, or similar mechanical means to anchor the plant in place. Take care not to crush or puncture the plant or root with any anchoring techniques. If the plants have leafy stems or foliage, ensure foliage will stand above the water level after installation.

Bare-root aquatic or emergent species like Lilies, Pickerel Weed, and Common Arrowhead are supplied in the early spring in bare-root format with little to no foliage. When planting bare-root plants, submerge the entire root to the appropriate depth and anchor it below the soil surface. A technique to use with bare-root tubers is to put them in a small, weighted, biodegradable mesh sack and submerge them at an appropriate depth. The sack will keep the tuber from floating to the surface, and by the time the plants have rooted into the soil, the sack will have biodegraded. Other techniques can be used to anchor plants, such as using concrete “donuts,” or planters. Contact Cardno for additional advice on wetland plant installation.

Tips for bare-root tree and shrub installation

  • After delivery, remove plants immediately from box and store upright to prevent mold growth.
  • Keep roots moist until plants are installed. They may be held in buckets or containers of water on site; however, if plant material will not be installed for a week or longer, do not keep in standing water.
  • Keep plants in a cold, dark place to prevent them from breaking dormancy until ready to plant. Bare-root trees and shrubs can be stored this way for several days, but check frequently for signs of mold and to make sure they are adequately watered.

Tips for bare-root aquatic and emergent species installation:

  • Because they do not remain viable for long after harvesting, schedule shipment to arrive as close to planting date as possible.
  • Take plants out of the packaging, place upright in a container, and keep in fresh water until planting (similar to fresh-cut flowers).

  • Plant roots must remain submerged at all times until just before planting, even when staging at the planting site.
  • Change water every few days if unable to plant immediately.

For a complete guide, please download our Installation and Maintenance Guidelines PDF document.