The majority of textbooks that describe plant installation use photo­graphs and examples common to the temperate zone. This one is no exception. Fortunately, there are not many geographic differences in methods of installation, but there are a few. They are based largely on plant species distinctions and on soil differences.


Palms are monocots that grow as trees or shrubs and may have single or multiple trunks. There are many different types of palms and they can be found in settings as diverse as the seacoast and the desert. Each branch has only a single terminal bud, allowing the plant to grow only at that point. Roots are produced continuously from the base of the trunk and they are shorter lived than the roots of woody dicots. The major­ity of palms that are used in landscapes are grown in nurseries, not the wild. They may be produced in containers or grown in fields. Like the woody dicots, palms must have an adequate root and soil ball attached if they are to transplant successfully. However, because of the differ­ence in how and where the roots are produced, the root ball is seldom as large as that of the woody plants. A root ball diameter that is about two feet greater than the diameter of the trunk is generally accepted as an adequate size. To be certain, landscapers should consult the local industry standards of their geographic region since there is no single industry norm. Many palms are not root pruned before being dug to promote new root formation prior to transplanting. Large palms can be moved with a tree spade. Smaller plants are handled with ball carts or carried at the root ball. To protect the tender terminal bud, the fronds of a palm are usually tied up and around the end of each branch with biodegradable twine before being harvested and moved. It is important to keep the root ball moist until the transplant is accomplished (Figures 10-16A and B).

Palms should be set at the same depth they were in the field or in their production container. If set too shallow, they may topple over. If set too deep, they may suffer nutrient deficiency. Staking is often needed to

figure 10-16A and B. Large palms, with fronds tied, are set into planters using a crane. (Delmar/Cengage Learning. Photo by Jack Ingels.)

stabilize the new transplants. The technique used is an exterior support brace, not the wire system described for temperate zone trees (Figure 10-17).

Following their transplanting, the palms should be kept well- watered and misted throughout their first season. Where conditions are excessively hot and dry, the fronds may remain tied around the terminal bud for most of the first season as well as to protect it from drying. The support structure may remain in place for up to a year.


High-quality landscapes require high-quality plant materials that are properly installed. A variety of tools are used in the installation of plant materials. Some are hand tools, many with multiple functions. Others are power tools that make possible the installation of large plants and/ or the preparation of suitable transplant sites.

Landscape plants are available in bare root form, or as balled and burlapped root and soil balls, or in production containers that can pro­duce plants as large as trees and shrubs or as small as bedding plants and groundcovers.

The best time to transplant is when good root growth can occur prior to the development of shoots and leaves. For most woody plants, early autumn is the ideal season. However, alternative planting seasons exist throughout the nation depending on the climate and the species.

When installing any plant, the overriding objective is to minimize transplant stress and return the plant to a normal state of growth as quickly as possible. Reducing the physical and physiological stress on the plant is critical. Proper preparation of the planting site and the root system, followed by correct placement, backfilling, stabilization, and post-transplant care will ensure a successful installation.

Stabilization techniques can include protective staking as well as that done to support a weak stemmed plant or to prevent a plant from tipping. When done correctly, staking permits the plant to move in the

wind, then be returned to its upright position. Guying is used to support large plants, usually trees. It anchors the tree to stakes driven deep into the soil below grade. Mulching, trunk wrapping, and the use of anti- transpirants are also important to successful post-transplant care and establishment of the plant.

The chapter also looked at the several specific techniques required for the successful installation of bedding plants, groundcovers, bulbs, cacti, and palms.



Answer each of the following questions as briefly as possible.

1. Identify the following tools used in the installation of landscape plants.


Indicate if the following statements are true or false.

1. The root form of the transplant determines how the plant is installed.


Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to

• water, fertilize, edge, and mulch tree and shrub plantings.

• prune trees and shrubs correctly.

• maintain annual and perennial flower plantings.

• winterize landscape plants.



lead branch

scaffold branches




water sprouts


As important as the design and proper installation of landscape plant­ings is their ongoing maintenance. Many gardens do not attain the appearance envisioned by the landscape designer until the plants have time to mature. Aiding those plants in their healthy maturation requires attentive and knowledgeable maintenance. Also, some designs require specific plant effects such as clipped formal hedges or espalier training to create the garden as envisioned. In both instances, the value of skillful landscape maintenance is apparent. A maintenance program generally will include the following tasks: watering, fertilizing, mulching, edging, pruning, pest control, and winterization.