Planting Guide

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Thank you for purchasing nursery stock from Three Palms Nursery! Water your plants thoroughly when you get home. Take a minute to look up all your plants in the Sunset Western Garden Book to learn more about their mature size and cultural requirements. Once you have prepared your soil by clearing all weeds, amending with compost or other suitable organic matter, and installing irrigation, you're ready to plant.

Planting 4" & 1 gal. Plants

Place your new plants where you think they look best, taking into consideration their mature height and width and their light requirements. Place large plants in the background, shorter ones in front. Mass plantings of low groundcovers are very effective and should be grouped in uneven numbers (3,5,7,9, etc.), spaced according to plant width. Mark the plants' locations, dig all the holes, and put a handful of compost in the bottom of each hole. The key to successful planting is to fill all the holes with water. Remove the plants from their containers and pull the roots out lightly on all sides (don't forget the bottom!) and place the plant in the hole at the same height as the surrounding soil. Carve a trough around the plant with a hoe and water the top. Top dress with mulch.

Planting 5 gal. Plants

A 5 gal. plant is at least one year older than a 1 gal. plant. They require a larger hole but are more mature and closer to full size. If you're planting a new area that's bare, it's best to mix some 5 gal. plants in with 4 in. and 1 gal. for a more natural look. Dig the hole a little larger than the container and place a couple shovels full of compost and 3 packets of time-release fertilizer (free with your purchase) in the bottom of the hole. Cover up the fertilizer with soil so the roots can grow into it. Don't let the roots touch the fertilizer when you plant. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Remove the plant from the container and score the root ball with a knife on four sides vertically and make an "X" on the bottom. Pull out the roots with your fingers. Fill in the hole with soil until the plant is about 1-1 _ in. above the soil level. Fill in around the plant and push the plant down lightly to eliminate air pockets. Carve a trough around the plant and water it in. Top dress with mulch.

Planting 5 & 15 gal. Trees

Trees are the most important plantings in your landscape. It's important to select the best quality tree for this reason. Your city should have a tree list with the best cultivars for your area. We provide the City of Davis street tree list as a guide. The selections on their list should do well anywhere in our area. Everyone wants a fast-growing tree that isn't messy and doesn't have invasive roots. There is no perfect tree; they all have drawbacks.

After you've researched and selected the tree that best fits your requirements, dig a hole about twice as large as the container. Amend with compost and the recommended amount of time-release fertilizer (free with your purchase). Remember to cover the fertilizer with soil so it doesn't touch the root ball of the tree. Fill the hole with water and check the drainage. The water should drain in 20-30 min. or less for a 5 gal. If it takes more than an hour, you may have a drainage problem and you may want to try another location or you may choose to live with the problem. For a 15 gal. tree, the hole should drain in an hour or less. If it takes more than 2 hrs, a problem may exist. Remove the tree from the container and score the root ball with a knife vertically several times around the root ball and make an "X" on the bottom. Pull the roots out with your fingers. If your tree is in a fiber pot, you can plant the pot in the hole. Place the tree in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is 1-2 in. above the soil level for a 5 gal. and 2-3 in. for a 15 gal. Lay the shovel handle across the hole to check. Fill in the area around the tree with soil and compost. If you're planting a fiber pot, remember to cut off the top edge slightly below ground level and cut with a knife vertically on the sides to aid root development and speed up decomposition of the pot. Carve a trough around the tree with a hoe about 18 in.-2 ft. from the trunk and water it in slowly for 30 min.-1 hr.

Tree Staking

Your tree may already have a stake tied to it with green tape. This stake may be all you need to support the tree. It's a good idea to cut the ties off of the stake and retie it with new green tape. We sell three types of stakes. If you're in a windy area you may want to support the tree with two 2 in. lodge poles. A post pounder works best for driving them into the ground. Place the posts about 18 in. to 24 in. away from the tree on the east and west sides. Tie with 1 in. green tape one or two on each side. We also sell Redi-stakesŪ, which are metal and are the very BEST way to stake a tree. Remember all stakes should be removed after one or two years. We will buy the Redi-stakesŪ back from you for plant credit after you've finished using them.


The water in our area is very hard (alkaline- 7.5-8 or higher). The combination of hard water and 100š plus temperatures can be deadly to some plants. This problem can be helped partly by using acid fertilizers and peat moss.

Also our soil is hard (heavy clay). Clay soil holds water very well but some soils are so heavy roots have trouble growing. This problem can be helped by adding organic matter like potting soil, compost, or gypsum. We sell all of these amendments.

After the initial planting, water every other day for the first one or two weeks for a 4 in or 1 gal container depending on the weather conditions (use this regime for one week if temperatures are under 85š, two weeks if over 85š). After that, water twice a week and finally once a week for clay soil, more often if you have sandy soil. As for larger containers, start off watering twice a week and then cut down to once per week. Be sure to water through November if it doesn't rain significantly. If your plants dry out in the winter and it freezes hard, it will kill the plant. Begin watering every other week in the spring when rains have subsided and the temperature is a consistent 75š plus. After that, return to the once a week regiment. Trees can be watered every two weeks to once a month after the first winter.

To ensure the survival of your new plants, the rule of green thumb is infrequent deep watering. Remember that all plants root at a depth of about 2 ft. So when it starts getting warm (75-85°), you have to think about how long it takes the water to get down to 2 ft. Sprinkling penetrates about 6-8 in. in 1 hour in our soils. So it would take about 3-4 hrs to get down to 2 ft. If you do sprinkle, remember to water in the morning (the earlier, the better) before noon or after 6 pm. If you surface irrigate by turning the hose on slowly or using a soaker hose, it will take about half as long (1 _ -2 hrs) to reach 2 ft. Drip irrigation works on the plants demand for water and may penetrate only 1 ft. or less. Follow the directions for your system. When it gets hot (90-100° or more), you need to increase the duration of your watering as well as the frequency. Mulch helps considerably to preserve moisture and helps keep bare ground from cracking and drying out. Rule of green thumb: Water deeply about once a week.