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Planting Balled and Burlapped Trees and Shrubs

Martha Stewart Living, March 2000

Balled and burlapped, or b&b, refers to plants, usually trees and shrubs, that are dug up and sold with their root ball wrapped in burlap (or a similar synthetic fabric). A burlap-wrapped root ball can be damaged easily, so handle it no more than necessary.

1. Before planting, use a stake or shovel handle to measure the root ball's width and depth, then dig a planting hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as wide.

2. Gently set the root ball in the hole, and cut the cords that secure the wrapper. A natural-fiber wrapper may be rolled down, buried, and left to decompose. Remove nonbiodegradable synthetic wrappers: Gently tip the root ball from side to side, slipping the fabric out from beneath. If the soil excavated from the planting hole is compacted or poor, you may amend it with compost, replacing no more than 25 percent. Otherwise, simply refill the hole, firming the soil by treading lightly with your heel.

3. Mound some soil to form a 2-inch-high ridge surrounding the plant, fill the well with water, let drain, and refill once more.