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Restore Your Shore

Steps & Techniques: Implementing Your Project


Plant Natives: Live Plants: Planting Tips

flats of native plants

The nursery where you purchase your plants will provide detailed instructions regarding planting.

Here are some general considerations:

workers planting worker planting

Affordable Planting - This is a long-term process. Keep it manageable and affordable by dividing the master plan into smaller sections, such as planting one new section each year over a five to six year period.

Aquatic Plants - Plant in spring after water levels have lowered and water temperatures are above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring plantings allow time for root systems to establish.

Anchoring of plants is necessary if wave action threatens their establishment. Use a coir erosion control fabric cut into short lengths (6'-10'). Cut slits in the fabric and plant through the slit into lake soils using a hand trowel. Make sure you plant at a depth that allows at least 1/3 of the plant to protrude above the water surface. Anchor the blanket with river rock (sewer rock) or larger rocks. Additional river rock can be carefully placed around each plant to help keep it in place. Plants can also be planted without the erosion control blanket by anchoring them with the river rock around the base of the plant.

worker using drill to create holes for planting plugs drill and planting trowel

Upland and Transitional Plants - In the transitional zone, plant within openings cut into erosion control fabric.

In the upland zone, cover the area with shredded mulch and create small pockets within the mulch to plant the plugs, trees or shrubs. When planting large areas, a cordless drill equipped with a bulb auger can make the job easier and quicker. For each plant, simply clear away the mulch and drill a hole into the soil similar in depth to the plant plug. It works well to have one person do the drilling and others follow along and plant the plugs. Bulb augers can be purchased at your local nursery supply or home supply store. The cordless drill must be at least 12 volts. For those less inclined to go the power tool route, a hand trowel works well too.

Plant upland species in spring or fall during cooler weather. Summer plantings can be successful if regularly watered.

Plugs and Containerized Plants - Native plants are often grown in compartmentalized containers that accelerate their growth. Keep plants watered and in the shade until planted. Soak thoroughly before removing from the container to plant. After planting, dry roots tend to reject water. Tap container upside down to remove plant, and then gently pry the roots apart.

Bare-root Plants - Readily available in nurseries, these are trees and shrubs that have had the soil washed from their roots. Less expensive than container-grown plants, the bare-root plants need to be planted before they leaf out and while temperatures are still moderate.

Correct Planting Depth - Place plants at the correct depth in the soil so that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.

Watering - Deep soaking is necessary to reach the root system. During the first year, water upland plants once a week (unless there is rain). A good soaking (sprinkler for an hour) is better than frequent watering for briefer times.

Labeling - Label a few plants of each species to avoid mistaking them later for weeds. Labeling allows you to track the success of your planting program.


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