If you’re digging a planting hole, you have no need for a tape measure. You already have the tool you need for measuring how deep to dig!
By Larry Hodgson
When you’re planting trees, shrubs and larger perennials, it’s important to know how deep to make the planting hole. And the basic rule is to dig a planting hole no deeper than the root ball is high,s but two or three times wider.
Sing along with Jiminy Cricket:
Always let your shovel be your guide! 🎵
Any deeper would end up covering the crown* with soil and that could cause rot. In fact, on larger trees and fruit trees, you should leave the top of the root ball just slightly above soil level: less than an inch (2 cm). As to the width of the hole, it needs to be wider than you’d think, as you need room to maneuver the root ball. And also to spread any circling or tangled roots out all around it, so the planting hole has to be wider than the root ball.
*The crown is also called the root flare.
A Tool You Already Have on Hand
To judge how deep to dig, here’s an age-old but still valuable tip. Use your shovel or spade as a guide!
Just place the shovel blade up against the pot. It is the same height? Half the height? Three quarters of the height? If pot is higher, how high above the handle is it? Etc. Take a mental note of the height. Then dig the hole to that depth.
And just to be sure, when you place the rootball in the hole, lay the shovel’s handle across the hole to make sure the rootball is that height.
On even smaller plants – annuals, seedlings, cuttings, etc. –, you can use your garden trowel in exactly the same way, that is, holding it upright against the rootball to get the right depth. In fact, some garden trowels are even graduated, making measurement all that much easier.
As to width, it should be, as mentioned, two to three times as wide at the rootball to give you ample room to work.
That’s easy enough! If you can fit two pots of the same size as the one your plant came in into the planting hole, it’s at least twice the width of the root ball.
To complete the planting after you’ve dug the hole, just fill in with soil, tamp down a bit and water well. So simple!
Ill.: depositphotos, clipartmax.com & toppng.com, montage: laidbackgardener.blog