Planting and initial weed control

Given the large number of plants that need to be planted in naturalistic planting schemes, one litre pots represent a workable compromise between excavating large planting holes and plants being large enough to reliably survive the planting process. Small plants in plugs or 9 cm pots often fare badly from typical commercial planting, and even when planted acceptably well are often lost due to burial beneath too great a depth of mulch. Where available, bare-root stock are often better value than container stock in terms of plant size in relation to cost, but they limit planting to the dormant season. They may also be planted upside down by adequately supervised, under-skilled staff.

Site preparation for planting needs to be undertaken as previously discussed in the section ‘Establishment by sowing in situ’. Soils cultivated to 200 mm and left as uncompacted as possible are much quicker and easier to plant into. Concerns about weed seed banks are much less significant, as in most cases a mulch will be applied post­planting to suppress weed development from this source (Figure 6.15). Mulch choice will generally reflect planting character and, for tall herbaceous plant communities of moist, productive sites, will generally be a 50 mm layer of coarse, composted organic debris. With dry looking plantings, a 50 mm layer of gravel or grit sand is generally used. This is far less effective than organic debris in restricting weed seed development, but is still helpful in the first year (Figure 6.16).