Landscaping Tips for Season-long Color

Color in the landscape adds visual appeal and seasonal splendor. Many homeowners try to select plants that will offer season-long interest, add consistency and tie the landscape design together.

 Harmony in a landscape is often accomplished when the same color schemes are repeated. When planning and planting, it is good to remember some general rules: 

* Cool colors, such as shades of green, blue and soft pastels, blend well together and tend to make an area seem larger in appearance. These colors also suggest calmness or tranquility.

* Warm colors, such as shades of red, orange and yellow, jump out visually and act as colorful accents. These colors invite and imply liveliness.

* Complementary colors are those colors that most optimally accentuate each other. Yellow is considered complementary to purple. Red is complementary to green. Orange is complementary to blue. White is a universal color that complements all colors.

* When planting for color, it is important to think of the importance of the foliage effect as well as the flower color. Some plants offer different textures while others put on a spectacular show in the autumn as their colorful leaves proclaim the end of the season.

* Choosing a variety of plants with staggered bloom times, along with those that add unique textures and distinctive leaf colors, adds seasonal interest to any landscape. But with literally thousands of options to choose from in plant material, it can be overwhelming when deciding which plants to buy. Browsing through catalogs and magazines can help give ideas. It is also helpful to visit nurseries and garden centers throughout the year to see what plants are in bloom at what time.

* For simplification purposes, the following bloom times have been organized:

spring bloomers – March through mid-May; summer bloomers – late May through mid-August; fall bloomers – late August through October. As a general rule, most perennials provide blossoms for 3 to 4 weeks. Deadheading or removing spent blossoms will encourage re-blooming.

The USU Extension fact sheet, Landscaping for Seasonal Color, includes some of the more commonly sold plants and trees and their approximate bloom times, along with plants that offer variety to the landscape in the form of texture and seasonal leaf color.

As always, it is important to remember that Mother Nature is consistently in charge. Weather variations and other climatic changes can influence bloom time and color intensity.

By: JayDee Gunnell, USU Extension regional horticulturist jaydee.gunnell@usu.edu

 Sheriden Hansen, USU Extension assistant professor, Davis County, sheriden.hansen@usu.edu

Landscaping for Season-long Color

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Each season brings with it new colors and emotions. Many homeowners seek help in selecting plant material that will offer season-long interest in the landscape. Different colors can add variety and add interest to the landscape. Plants should add consistency and tie the landscape design together. Harmony in a landscape is often accomplished when the same color schemes are repeated.

When planting for color, it is good to remember some general rules. Cool colors, such as shades of green, blue, and soft pastels, blend well together and have a tendency to make an area seem larger in appearance. These colors also suggest calmness or tranquility. Warm colors, such as shades of red, orange, and yellow, jump out visually and act as colorful accents. These colors imply lively and inviting feelings.

Complementary colors are those colors that most optimally accentuate each other. Yellow is considered complementary to purple. Red is complementary to green. Orange is complementary to blue. White is one of those universal colors, which complements all colors.

There are many different plants which can add seasonal splendor to a landscape. Many plants display an array of flower colors throughout the season. Some plants offer different textures while others put on a spectacular show in the autumn as their colorful leaves proclaim the end of the season. When planting for color, it is important to think of the importance of foliage effect along with flower color.

With literally thousands of options in choosing plant material, it can oftentimes be overwhelming to homeowners in deciding which plants to buy. Catalogs and magazines are great for getting ideas. It is also a good idea to visit the nurseries and garden centers periodically throughout the year to see what plants are in bloom. Choosing a variety of plants with staggered bloom times, along with those that add unique textures and distinctive leaf colors can add seasonal interest to any landscape.

For a list of some of the more commonly sold plants and their approximate bloom times along with plants that offer variety to the landscape in the form of texture and seasonal leaf color, click here.

This article was written by JayDee Gunnell, Horticulture Agent, Cache County Extension, Sheriden Hansen, Extension Assistant Professor, Davis County, Linden Greenhalgh, Extension Associate Professor, Tooele County, and Holly Christley, Horticulture Assistant, Tooele County.

How to Care for Holiday Plants

How to Care for Holiday Plants PoinsettiasGardening experts Sheriden Hansen and Michael Caron share the origins of some common holiday plants, plus give some tips on caring for them in today’s post.


When cold weather settles into Utah, we tend to put our gardens to bed and turn our focus to our warm, comfortable homes.  But who says that gardening can’t continue through the cold winter months?  There are many options for bringing gardening inside during the holidays.  Most of the plants that we use during the holidays have specific symbolism or meaningful stories, and some can last for months or even years in our homes with some special care.

Living Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is one of the most recognizable symbols of the holidays.  It originated as a Christmas tradition in Germany about 400 years ago, but was not common in the USA until the 1890’s.  One of the most recognizable Christmas trees, the Rockefeller Center tree, was first placed by construction workers in 1931.  The following year, the tree was placed again, but this time it was adorned with lights.  The tree has been tradition since that first humble year in the Depression Era, but is much larger and now boasts over 25,000 lights.  When bringing home your own tree, make sure the needles are flexible and remain on the tree when lightly tugged on.  The tree should have a fresh smell and the base should be re-cut before you take it home.  Healthy, active, fresh-cut trees can drink up to a gallon of water a day, especially during the first week, so use a sturdy stand with a large water reservoir. Place the tree in a cool location and keep it well-watered to ensure the needles last through Christmas. Fresh trees that are allowed to dry out will begin to shed needles quickly and become a fire hazard.  Fresh, cool water is all that is needed – It is NOT recommended to add sugar, bleach, or any other additive to the water reservoir, or spray any preservatives on the tree itself.


Poinsettias are native to Mexico and are the most popular potted plant in the world. With several colors and forms available, they add a festive feel to any room.  Joel Roberts Poinsett, U.S. Minister to Mexico from 1825 to 1829, introduced the plant to the United States.  Poinsett was a botanist and was one of the first to argue for the creation of the Smithsonian Institution. Poinsettias dislike wet soil and should be watered when the soil becomes lightweight and is dry to the touch.  Pot-covers should be removed, and the soil allowed to completely drain.  Placing plants in the sink or tub can be an easy way to accommodate watering.  Poinsettia require a rather specific daylength in order to produce flowers and can be difficult to get to rebloom.  If you decide to keep the plants for reblooming, prune them in April by cutting the stems to about half their length. Fertilize every two weeks with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer, and place in a location that gets no artificial sunlight after sunset in September. The idea is to provide 12 or more hours of uninterrupted darkness in September and October. If conditions are right, you can move your plant to a living area in your home in November, and the bracts will color for the holidays.

Christmas Cactus

These hardy succulents can last for years and will rebloom every year, if cared for properly.  Christmas cactus like bright, sunny east or south facing windows.  Although these plants are succulents, they come from the tropics and need moist soils that are allowed to dry slightly between watering.  Flowers that fail to open are the result of lack of water and warm soil temperatures.  To get plants to rebloom, place in a cool location (40 to 50⁰F) in the early fall, reduce watering, and move the plant to a location where it receives about 12 hours of uninterrupted darkness each day.  Plants should be fertilized with a houseplant fertilizer monthly from April to October to promote growth and bloom.


The word Amaryllis literally means “to sparkle”, which makes this showy bulb a perfect fit for the holiday season.  The Portuguese name for this plant translates to “St. Joseph’s staff” referencing the legend that the staff of St. Joseph burst into bloom as a sign that he was selected as the spouse of the Virgin Mary.  This bulb produces long-lived, beautiful flowers in red, white, pink, and variegated colors and are usually forced indoors beginning in October.  If you didn’t pick up bulbs in the fall, there is no need to worry, plants already forced and actively growing can usually be found in local nurseries and grocery stores.  To care for one of these magnificent plants, place in a bright sunny location, watering periodically to keep soil moist but not wet.  As the stem elongates, rotate the plant a half turn each day to prevent it bending toward the light source.  Staking stems with large flowers may also be required.  Once flowers are spent, cut the stalk but keep the leaves and continue to water the plant as needed.  Allow the plant to go dormant in the late summer by halting watering.  Remove yellow leaves and store the plant in a cool, dark, and dry location until October, when you can repot, begin watering, and start the blooming process again.


Paperwhites, like Amaryllis, are a bulb that will need to be forced to bloom in time for the holidays.  Paperwhites are a type of Narcissus and are related to daffodils, but have smaller, less showy blooms and a distinct floral fragrance.  Their white blooms are used during the holidays to signify rebirth and renewal, as they are often one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring landscape.  Look for bulbs that are firm, without blemishes or soft spots.  Bulbs should be set in a well-drained container with clean potting soil and watered in.  Place the container in a dark location with temperatures between 50-60⁰F for two weeks and then move to a sunny, warm location.  As stems lengthen, they often need to be staked with a small piece of bamboo.  Unlike Amaryllis, paperwhites are usually a one-time use bulb, and can be difficult to rebloom, even with the best care.


You may have seen mommy kissing Santa under the mistletoe, but did you know the use of mistletoe dates back to the Druids nearly 2,000 years ago?  Mistletoe was hung in houses to bring good luck, ward off evil spirits, and used as a symbol of fertility.  It was also used as a sign of love and friendship in Norse mythology, which is where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated.   Mistletoe is a parasitic plant with sticky seeds usually spread by birds.  Mistletoe plants grow roots into the stems or leaves of their hosts where it removes water and nutrients for its own growth.  Something to think about next time you get the chance to kiss under the mistletoe!

This article was written by Sheriden Hansen and Michael Caron.

Eight Reasons to Consider Canning

food canning

Canning your produce can make your harvest go a long way. The practice is economically beneficial and preserves your gardening efforts!


Now that gardens are planted and fruit trees are showing signs of small fruit, many people begin planning how they will preserve the harvest – canning, freezing, drying and even freeze-drying. However, even die-hard food preservers may ask at times if the efforts of growing produce and preserving are really worth it. Here are eight things to consider.

            Emergency preparedness – Preparing for potential job loss, earthquakes or other natural disasters serve as incentives for many to participate in food storage and preservation.

            Economically beneficial – Whether food preservation actually saves money depends on several factors: if you are able to grow your own high-quality produce; if you own the correct equipment in very good to excellent condition; the cost of electricity, natural gas or propane; and the cost of added ingredients and supplies such as sugar, pectin, lids, bottles or freezer bags. A first-time food preserver may find it cost prohibitive to purchase a new pressure canner, dehydrator, or water-bath canner along with all the containers, etc., but those can be purchased over time.

            Time saving – When considering this factor, it is important to think beyond the actual time to harvest, prepare and preserve the food. The time savings actually comes into play down the line when the convenience of having a bottle of stewed tomatoes or frozen chopped onions and peppers on hand to make spaghetti sauce alleviates a trip to the grocery store or time spent preparing these items fresh.


            Quality control – Time from harvest to jar or freezer is minimized when you can pick peaches in the morning and have them canned that same afternoon. Sometimes several days go by between harvesting/picking in a commercial orchard to the processing plant. Also, when it’s your hands sorting through the produce to make certain everything is cleaned and unwanted pieces are discarded, you are more confident in the overall quality of what you preserve.

            Flavor – In general, it is difficult to find commercially preserved foods without added salt, sugar, spices and in some cases dyes and firming agents or other additives. To a large degree, home preserved foods can be prepared with reduced salt/sugar and added spices in your preferred amounts.

            Health benefits – Those who have food allergies must always be on the watch for commercially prepared foods that have possible contamination from tree nuts, gluten and other potentially harmful allergens. Besides the freshness factor, when food is preserved at home, you are in control and can ensure that foods are properly prepared for your family. Reduced sugar recipes for diabetics and lowered salt content for family members with high blood pressure can also be used.

           Reduced food waste – Home gardeners often produce more food than can be harvested and used fresh. For example, rather than having many stalks of ripened corn go to waste, cobs can be shucked, then cobs or kernels may be blanched and frozen. Remaining stalks can then be donated to a farmer to be used to feed goats or other livestock.

            Emotional satisfaction – The idea of producing high-quality foods for future use – and from scratch – can be very satisfying. The best way to feel totally confident in what is sitting on the shelf or in the freezer is to simply follow the approved guidelines and steps established by science and research; not necessarily from a blog, Pinterest or a Facebook post.

For more information on home food preservation, contact your local USU Extension office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.nchfp.uga.edu.


This article was written by Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or 435-586-8132

Think Visual Impact When Readying Yard for Events

garden tour

Get helpful tips from USU Extension horticulture assistant Meredith Seaver to get your yard and garden looking polished on short notice! What are some of your tricks for a gorgeous garden?

Q: Our yard has been a little neglected, but our neighbors asked us to host an event this summer. What are the most important things we can do to make our yard look nice in a time crunch?

For a special event like this when time is short and appearances are important, focus on the areas where your guests will be mingling that will have the greatest visual impact. Work later on areas not as likely to be seen and used, if time allows. As you walk through your yard, follow the same route you expect guests to use, and make a note of problems or neglected areas that catch your attention. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to go to work. In addition to the problem areas, start with these tasks:

  • Rake leaves and debris, and cut back the dead tops of perennials.
  • Pull weeds and edge the lawn around your walkways and flower beds. A nice, crisp edge makes a great impact on the appearance of the area. You will probably need to touch up the edging a day or two before the event.
  • One last task that will help your yard look “put together” is to add a 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil in your shrub and flower beds. Small or mini bark nuggets are generally more visually pleasing than shredded bark or large bark nuggets.

These tasks will provide the most visual impact. Once you have tackled them, you can move on to other areas if there is still time.

  • If you have a fence, dust off cobwebs. Solid fences also benefit from a good rinse with a hose.
  • Prune low-hanging or head-height branches in the entry and mingling areas. Don’t just cut back branches. Instead, cut off small branches growing downward from the branch underside. That will preserve the natural form and beauty of your trees while providing clearance for your taller guests.
  • Since annual flowers can take several weeks to fill in and bloom, consider adding color with container gardens and hanging baskets that are already in bloom. Large containers and hanging baskets on shepherd’s crooks can also be used to direct foot traffic during the party.

Discover new ideas for your yard and garden at USU Extension’s Hidden Garden Tour on June 15 and 16. For information, visit www.hiddengarden.org or call (801)-851-8469.

Answer by: 
Meredith Seaver, Utah State University Extension horticulture assistant, Utah County, 801-851-8462, gardenhelp@usu.edu

NEW! Live Online Gardening Course

Caring for Succulents | Live Online Course – May 24th

Join our online course to learn all about succulents from USU Extension gardening
experts Sheriden Hansen and Helen Muntz. They will teach you about the many varieties
of indoor and outdoor succulents and how to care for and propagate them. They will
also demonstrate how to create a unique vertical succulent planter and answer questions.

Learn How To:

  • Determine what makes a plant a succulent.
  • Understand common problems with succulents and how to treat them.
  • Understand how to plant and care for succulents – both indoors and outdoors.

Register For Course

Course Instructors

Sheriden Hansen

Sheriden Hansen

Sheriden Hansen is the USU Extension horticulture assistant professor in Davis County. She received a bachelor’s degree from USU’s off-campus program in
plant science in 2015 and worked as a fruit production intern at the Kaysville Extension
research farm for two years. She also has a master’s degree in plant science. She has multiple horticultural responsibilities, including working with the master
gardener program in Davis County.

Helen Muntz

Helen Muntz

Helen Muntz is the USU Extension horticulture educator in Weber and Morgan counties,
a position she has held since January 2017. Prior to this, she worked for the Cache
County Extension office for 3 1/2 years. She works in the Morgan County office most
Tuesdays and in the Weber County office the other four days.

How to Use Zoom

This live online course will be broadcast through Zoom. If you are having difficulty
using Zoom, please refer to their online help guide, found by clicking the button

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Please Note: We suggest downloading and learning how to use Zoom software well in advance of the
Live Online Course.

Getting Started with Zoom


Six Lovely, Long-blooming Perennials to Consider

Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

As the days get warmer gardening season is right around the corner. These gorgeous long-blooming perennials will keep your flower beds looking lush throughout the summer! 

It is finally time to plant flowers, and it is easy to default to annuals (plants that die at the end of the season) such as petunias and marigolds. These and other annuals are beautiful, but there are also many spectacular perennials that have long-bloom seasons and do not have to be replanted every year. Keep in mind that perennials are not necessarily lower maintenance than annuals, but they open up a wider array of textures and flower styles that add interest to a yard. The following are among the easiest to grow and longest blooming and are just a few of the many lovely options.

        Hummingbird Mint (Anise Hyssop): There are several species and cultivars available. Most prefer hot sun and are moderately to extremely drought hardy. Flower color varies from white to almost red. They generally reach 18-30 inches high and wide and bloom from July to October. Both the foliage and flowers are fragrant and attract many beneficial insects to the yard. Be sure to check the cold hardiness of individual cultivars. Some will only survive on the Wasatch Front, while others are fine in colder mountain valleys.

        Blanket Flower (Gaillardia): Most blanket flower species are North American natives. They have beautiful daisy-like flowers from late May to first frost. Each plant grows 9-12 inches tall and around 2 feet wide. Gaillardia do not tolerate overwatering and are perfectly happy being deep soaked every 7-14 days, depending on the soil and temperature. They do need to be deadheaded weekly.

        Gaura (Whirling Butterfly): Whirling Butterfly blooms from June to frost. It loves heat and is relatively drought hardy. The plants are best used in groupings and attract many beneficial insects. Because of the profuse number of flowers, periodic deadheading is a must to encourage new flowers. To do so, use hedging shears to cut spent flowers back to the tops of the plants. New flowers are produced within a week or so after. These are best grown along the Wasatch Front and warmer areas.

        Yellow Corydalis: This is one of the few plants that blooms from June to frost and thrives in shaded locations. It lives for 3-5 years, but reseeds itself readily. Plants reach 18-24 inches high and wide and tolerate most soils. Although they do not like to be excessively wet, do not drought stress them.

        Japanese Anemone (Windflower): Japanese Anemone also tolerates shade. It offers height in landscapes, ornamental foliage and late summer-to-fall flowers. It is generally available for purchase by mid-summer. There are anemone species that bloom at different times during the growing season. Flowers, depending on the cultivar, are similar in appearance to daisies or poppies. Windflower is somewhat slow to establish. However, once it does, it fills in well.

        Stella D’ Oro Daylily: This is one of the most popular perennials, especially among the hundreds of daylilies available. It blooms for 2-3 months in the middle of the growing season with yellow-orange flowers. Besides occasional deadheading and cutting back in the fall, there is little required maintenance to make this plant thrive. Divide it every 3-5 years to maintain production of profuse flowers. Stella D’ Oro Daylily performs well in part shade to full sun.


This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist.

801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu

Photo by Krzysztof Ziarnek, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons


Sustainable Living through Permaculture

Permaculture.jpgImagine your pesky garden weeds as flowers, fertilizers, and salad greens. What if you could swap your sprinklers for rain showers?

Welcome to permaculture—a “permanent culture”—that mimics the natural world in useful ways. Whether you want a greener lifestyle or just another way to cut down your weekly grocery spending, permaculture can help.

A New Perspective

Permaculture doesn’t just teach you how to garden; it gives you a new perspective on life. This perspective is a holistic view, where every system—living or man-made—connects into a greater whole. Through permaculture, you realize sustainable living is the route of less work and less expense. You see that the same things that are healthy for the land can be healthy for you.

For example, we can use water, energy, and natural resources without depleting them.  We can design the land with an eye to regeneration. In areas where over-use or poor management destroyed the environment, we can revive the soil so that lush vegetation returns. Different species don’t need to live separately—they can work together.

USU Extension’s Permaculture Initiative

Since 2013, the USU Permaculture Initiative has provided research, teaching, and outreach on permaculture design. This includes permaculture as a community resiliency design framework in light of projected climate change impacts for the Southwest. This year, with partners like the Logan Library, the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and Moab Bee Inspired Gardens, we’re providing several workshops and presentations.

In February, local Logan area expert Shane Richards gave a hands-on fruit tree pruning demonstration. In March, Brigham City resident Liz Braithwaite presented on the paradigm shift that comes from permaculture. Want to participate? Find out more at meetup.com/USUPermaculture.

This article was written by Roslynn Brain, Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist with USU Extension, Moab

When to Plant? That is the Question

When to Plant.jpg

Even if it is too early to plant, it’s never too early to start planning your garden. Learn from USU Extension gardening expert Taun Beddes when you can safely plant your vegetable garden.

One day it is sunny and warm, and the next day it is raining and cold. Or in northern Utah, it could even be snowing.

Determining when to plant a garden can be especially confusing in Utah’s unpredictable, varied climate where last-frost dates can vary by many days within just a few miles. Many experienced gardeners have planted and later lost their plants to frost.

As you determine when you should plant, consider the geographic characteristics of where you live. When a yard is located in a populated area or on a mountain bench, it usually has a longer growing season. Other areas located at slightly lower elevations where cold air drains and cannot escape have a shorter season. This is why local commercial orchards are generally located on benches. Additionally, urban and suburban areas are slightly warmer than surrounding areas due to the urban heat effect. Heat from buildings and warmth generated by sunlight reflected from roads and other surfaces increases temperatures and delays frost. It can be helpful to chat with a local farmer or experienced gardener in your area to determine what works for him or her regarding when to plant.

In addition to frost information, it is important to take into account the needs of the plants. Vegetables planted locally fall into four basic categories: hardy, semi-hardy, tender and very tender. Depending on which category a plant belongs to, planting dates vary from early spring until early summer. Consider the following:

  • Hardy vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the soil is workable in early spring. This usually ranges between 45 and 60 days before the average last frost. These same vegetables can be safely planted until the average last frost date.
  • Semi-hardy plants, such as beets, carrots, lettuce and potatoes, can be planted one to two weeks after the hardy group. These can be planted until the average last-frost date.
  • Tender vegetables, such as celery, cucumbers, corn and most beans, should be planted on the average last-frost date.
  • Very tender plants, such as squash, beans, melons, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, should not be planted until at least a week after the average last frost. Even if frost does not occur before this time, these plants will not grow well and are more susceptible to disease until warmer weather.

If you have lost plants to frost, you are not alone, and all you can do is try again.

Average Frost Dates for Various Utah Locations (Note that these dates are averages and can vary from year to year.)
        Frost Dates
City Last First Frost-Free Days
Alpine May 20 September 30 136
Blanding May 13 October 12 153
Cedar City May 10 October 5 148
Delta May 17 September 28 134
Farmington May 5 October 10 158
Fillmore May 16 October 4 140
Huntsville June 11 September 9  89
Kanab May 7 October 20 166
Lake Town June 15 September 10  87
Logan May 14 September 25 135
Morgan June 6 September 11 98
Moroni June 1 September 18 109
Ogden May 1 October 24 176
Park City June 9 September 1  92
Price May 12 October 7 148
Roosevelt May 18 September 25 130
Spanish Fork May 1 October 13 165
St. George April 6 October 28 205
Tooele May 7 October 14 159
Tremonton May 3 October 10 160

This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu

Three Tips for Tree Planting

Tree Planting Tips.jpgTrees are an integral part of landscaping, and it’s important to know the basics of starting them out right so they will flourish for many years to come. Here are answers to three frequently asked questions about tree planting.

When is the best time of year to plant?

Trees are best planted when they are still dormant with tight, unopened buds in the early to mid-spring after the soil has thawed. Cool temperatures and good soil moisture in the spring help trees get established. Fall planting also works well for many species, though watering is critical if the fall is dry. Summer planting of balled-and-burlapped and container plants can be successful, though hot temperatures, dry conditions and non-dormant trees make good care especially important and survival less sure. Bare-root trees should only be planted in spring while still dormant.

Which type of tree is best?

Landscape trees and shrubs can be obtained in four basic types: balled and burlapped, container/potted, bare root and tree spaded. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, and none is ideal for all situations. Bare-root trees have the most naturally formed root system and are less expensive, but they are not commonly available from nurseries. Balled and burlapped trees work well because they have been grown for several years in soil and are more likely to have a well-distributed root ball than potted trees. Potted or containerized trees are most likely to develop root system problems such as girdling roots and buried root collars. Spaded trees grow well but are not always available.

How large does the root ball need to be?

All four types need to have an adequate root system. A good rule of thumb is that the root system, root ball or container diameter or spread should be 10 to 12 inches for every inch of stem caliper (diameter at ground-line just above any basal swell). Therefore, a 3-inch caliper tree should have a 30 to 36-inch-wide root ball as a minimum. Root ball depth is not as critical as width, but should be deeper for larger trees.

For further information on planting trees and general tree information, visit forestry.usu.edu.

This article was written by Mike Kuhns, Utah State University Extension forestry specialist, 435-797-4056, mike.kuhns@usu.edu