Kennedy’s Nursery PlantINg Guide

Kennedy’s Planting Instructions

Select the right plant:  We at Kennedy’s pride ourselves in making sure you put the right plant in the right place.  Many factors affect the short and long term success of your plants.  Sunlight, moisture, temperature, wind, soil conditions, weather, and other specific site conditions all affect how happy and healthy your plant will be.  Be sure to consult a Kennedy’s Nursery Specialist before making an investment in your landscape.

Dig the hole:  One of the worst things you can do to a new plant is to plant it too deep.  Kennedy’s recommends that you dig the planting hole no deeper than the root ball as measured from the trunk flare to the bottom of the ball.  There is no need to put any special soil at the bottom of the hole.  Holes dug deeper than the root ball and then backfilled to get the plant to the correct height often result in settling of the plant to a point where the trunk flare ends up below the surface of the soil which is not healthy for the plant.  Make sure the top of the roots are level with the existing grade or even a ½ inch above the soil surface.  If need be, you can scrape some soil to cover any exposed roots.  Your planting area should be dug two to four times the width of the root ball to allow the roots to develop beyond the tree’s canopy/dripline.

Set the plant in the hole:  Make sure the plant is standing up straight.  Before backfilling be sure to angle the plant so the best side is facing the direction you want it to face.  Make sure the trunk flare is at least one inch above the existing grade to ensure long-term success.

For plants with burlap root balls:  Once the tree is in the hole, cut all ropes around the root ball.  Kennedy’s recommends pulling the burlap and wire 1/3 to 1/2 of the way down around the root ball.  It is very important that the root ball stay intact during the planting process.  Most burlap today biodegrades shortly after planting, but if your burlap is plastic it must be carefully removed.  Set the plant so that the top of the roots is at grade or slightly above.

For plant in pots:  Be sure to remove the pot.  It is a good practice to loosen the roots.  In some instances where the plant is very “root bound,” it is okay to make 3 or 4 vertical slices with a knife.  Consult us for details.  This practice helps ensure the roots do not circle or “girdle” the plant and cause problems later on.  Set the top of the root ball level or even a ½ inch above the grade.

Backfill the hole:  Mix equal parts of existing soil that you removed to dig the hole and Fafard’s Ultra Outdoor Planting Mix or a good compost.  Add some Elements Fertilizer to the mix, following the directions on the bag.  The combination of original soil, organic matter, plant food, and beneficial microorganisms will give your new planting the best chance of surviving and thriving.  Your original soil and amendments should be mixed thoroughly before backfilling, avoiding clumps and layers of different types of soils.  Lightly tamp or step on the backfilled soil to remove large air pockets.  Do not pack the soil so firmly as to drive all the fine air spaces out of the soil.  The roots of the plant need to breathe.

Build a berm:  In many instances, especially when planting on slopes, it is beneficial to build a berm around the edge of the planting hole.  A berm of soil helps collect and keep valuable surface water from running away.  On a slope, build the berm on the lower side of the slope in order to capture the water.

Water:  Water thoroughly.  Place a slow running hose near the base of your plant and saturate the entire planting area to the depth of the hole.  Repeat this every two days for one week, then continue one to three times a week depending on weather.  If you have added Fafard’s Planting Mix and Elements, your new plant will have everything it needs to get off to a great start!  No need to fertilize your new plant again until next spring.  See us in the spring for a recommended fertilizer.

Mulch:  Add a 2-3” layer of bark mulch over the planting circle.  Mulch has many benefits to newly planted plants.  Mulch helps retain soil moisture, moderates soil temperature, reduces weeds, and adds to the aesthetics of the new planting.  It is important not to pile mulch around the trunk.  Too much mulch can cause the trunk to rot or the roots to suffocate.

Stake your tree:  Staking is recommended for tall, top heavy trees or trees that are planted in windy locations, especially when planted in the fall when they have less time to “root in” before winter.  Stakes should be removed after one growing season.  See a Kennedy’s staff member for more details on tree staking.

Please call, email, or stop in with any additional questions.  Happy gardening from your friends at Kennedy’s!

Maintenance Instructions

Watering:  Deeply water all newly installed plants every other day for the first week.  Water one to three times a week thereafter through their first summer and fall.  Most plants prefer at least 1” of water per week, including natural rainfall.  Frequency of watering depends on weather and soil conditions.  Water as often as every other day in hot, dry, windy conditions.  In cooler or rainy periods, watering may only be necessary once a week if at all.  Check your soil for moisture before watering.  It is possible to over water, so if the soil is damp, leave it alone and check it the next day. After the plants have established a strong root system and have gone through one full summer they depend less on you for water.  However, even after the plants are established, try to never let them go more than a week without water.

Fertilizing:  Kennedy’s recommends fertilizing established trees and shrubs once a year in the spring with an application of Elements, Plant Tone, or similar.  (Perennials should be fertilized on the same schedule with Plant Tone or a similar product.  Annuals can be fertilized every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer such as Jack’s, Neptune’s Harvest, or Elements.)

Pruning:  The general rule with flowering trees and shrubs is to prune (only when needed to control size or shape) within 2-3 weeks after the plant has flowered.  This helps ensure you are not cutting off the next season’s flower buds.  Summer and fall flowering plant can often be pruned in early spring, because they produce buds in mid to late spring.  Most evergreens and non-flowering trees and shrubs can be pruned March through July.  Try to avoid late summer/early fall pruning, as any new growth might not have time to “harden off” before the cold of winter.  Pruning evergreens in late fall or winter can be okay; the plants are dormant, so new growth will not be an issue, but they are also less able to heal the wounds that pruning causes.

Insects and disease:  Notify Kennedy’s of anything that does not appear normal.  Bring in a sample and/or photographs and we will help you diagnose any problems with your plants.  Many insects and some diseases are easy to control.  Please come see us as soon as you see a sign of a problem.  For Kennedy’s to honor our nursery guarantee, we need to be notified of any problems with your plants at their first appearance.

Kennedy’s Guarantee

Kennedy’s confidence in our nursery stock is backed by a one year guarantee on hardy trees and shrubs.  If you are a member of our rewards program, this guarantee is valid for two years.  Kennedy’s agrees to furnish true-to-name nursery plants in top quality condition, and to re-supply ONCE, at no charge to the customer, and at no more than the original purchase value, any hardy to Zone 6 tree, shrub, or evergreen that fails to survive through the 12 months (24 months for  Rewards Members) from the date of purchase provided you:

  1. Purchased the plant from Kennedy’s at full price.
  2. Plant the plant in the ground and follow proper planting, maintenance, and weather protection procedures as outlined in this brochure.
  3. Report any problem with your plant to Kennedy’s at first sign of same. This guarantee will be nullified if we are not given an opportunity to suggest corrective measures in a timely fashion.
  4. Provide proof of purchase on any failed plant material. It is the responsibility of the customer to obtain and keep a cash register receipt showing your plant was purchased at Kennedy’s.
  5. Return the failed plant in its existing condition to Kennedy’s. If it is too big to bring back, please provide pictures including close-ups of the leaves, stems, and roots. We would like to try and determine the cause of your problems to ensure success with your next plant.

In the spirit of good business practice, we try to be fair to customers who do not follow all of the above steps.  However, if you do not follow the above steps, we reserve the right to decline your guarantee.

Kennedy’s liability in no way will exceed the original purchase value.  The replacement plant will not exceed the price paid for the original plant.  If a sufficient replacement plant cannot be located, Kennedy’s will offer a store credit.

Excluded from our guarantee are trees and shrubs that are not hardy to Zone 6, annuals, tropicals, perennials, grasses, roses, and ground covers.  Also excluded are plants not planted in the ground, plants damaged by mechanical damage, plants lost to abnormal weather conditions or flooding, plants subjected to over-watering, under-watering, or insufficient care, and plants where signs of insect damage or disease were ignored.  Additional circumstances beyond our control may void this guarantee.  Accounts not paid within 48 hours of completion will nullify this guarantee.


If you have any questions about your new plants, or for more information about watering and maintenance, please stop by, call us, or visit our website at:


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