Planting hole markingWhy Would Plant Position Be So Important?

More often then not plant position is critical, especially on the residential property.

  • space limitations alone demand positioning plants accurately.
  • positioning plants is particularly important near buildings, pools, patios, walkways and other structures.
  • positioning is #1 when screening for privacy or to block a view.
  • spacing and alignment for hedging and other “deliberate patterns” must be spot-on to look right.

How To Preserve and Insure Plant Position

A standard plant installation job with small to medium sized plants is typically set-up so that the new plants are arranged and sitting right where they’re going.  In this situation it’s normal to just mark the spot for the hole by outlining the container or root-ball with the shovel.

However, sometimes as we mentioned in our bullet-points above, it’s necessary to get that plant in the ground exactly where it is intended.

Very often we’ll refer to the “center” of the plant when talking about spacing and positioning.  The reference and use of “center” eliminates any confusion for an installer regardless of  the width or shape of a plant.

In the picture above the new plants are arranged as a border screen.  Each plant’s position has been adjusted.  It’s important to insure this exact position through the planting phase.

To do this I use granular limestone to mark the centers of each plant with “cross-hairs”.  (You could also use marking paint.) I extend the lines a good distance so that portions of the lines remain visible while the holes are being dug.

No matter how crazy the hole-digging gets due to roots, rocks and other underground surprises, the center of the hole can always be referenced with the “cross-hairs”.

Finally, when it comes time to set the plant in the hole, once again the “cross-hairs” give us the center of the plant’s intended location.

I’ve used this simple method of marking plant locations in other circumstances where it was just too impractical to set the new plant(s) up first.  Or, the new plant was on its way to the jobsite and we wanted to get the hole dug before it arrived.

How do you handle plant positioning for installation?  Let us know in the comments.

  • Jay
    10:04 AM, 18 June 2010

    I got guys waiting for me to set things up for them to do and you know that costs money. All these extra steps take time. I hear what your saying but I gotta keep things moving.

    • Roger
      6:38 PM, 18 June 2010

      I can relate so well to “having your crew waiting while you’re setting up”. I experienced that when I had my own crews, and now even as I just design and manage (oversee) jobs, I still feel the same pressure. Look, in some ways we put it on ourselves because we want the job to be the best it can be. This is one of the key factors in differentiating ourselves from the masses. This is one of those things that keep you busy when other guys are struggling for work.
      Here’s what I do: I’m thinking about the job before I even get there. I’ve got this rough idea of how I’d like it to go. But take it a step further and figure out the aspects of the job that you need to be involved with (like setting up the plants). Now think about what needs to be done before (or in preparation for) the plant set up. Get guys working on that right away, while one or two other guys bring the plants close to the area. While they’re all working on those tasks, you should have time to plan (or set up) another aspect of the job. Once they’re done preparing the planting area and bringing the plants nearby, have them move onto the other task you have planned (or set up). While they’re working on that you’re setting up the plants.
      Not easy, I know, but after a while it becomes second nature. It’s like a chess game where you’re thinking 3.4.5 moves ahead. And here’s what I noticed. Your guys start to adopt the concept of efficiency and see by your example how they need to think one and two steps ahead. After a while you’ll see “systems” develop where you’ll need to say what to do less and less.
      Hope this helps.

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