Fallscapes Barry Johnson, operations manager for Osterville’s H.F. Johnson Tree Farm, knows perhaps better than any landscape professional just how important spacious holes are for trees and shrubs transplanted into a new environment. A family owned and operated business serving Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Southern New England since 1920, the company specializes in the sale and transplanting of mature trees and shrubs from their own farms as well as from residential and commercial sources. With more than 20 acres of mature trees and shrubs from miniature Japanese maples to soaring redwoods and evergreens of nearly every kind, H.F. Johnson is a green eden for homeowners looking to get a head start on a dramatic new landscape.

Standing in front of the company’s enormous tree spade truck which can be used to dig trees up to 50 feet tall, Barry Johnson says the secret to success of fall planting is digging a hole at least twice the size of your new plant’s root ball if possible, whether the plant is container-grown or wrapped in burlap. “It’s really important to start out with the right size hole so that new roots have room to expand and take hold,” says Johnson. “We recommend that homeowners use good soil with lots of organic matter added like compost, blended at a 50-50 ratio with existing soil from the planting area.” Johnson explains that it is important to use a fertilizer with mycorrhizae, which promotes necessary fall root development.

“After the first frost, apply a 5-5-5 fertilizer with mycorrhizzae and then mulch each plant well with up to four inches of mulch, preventing soil temperature fluctuations,” says Johnson.

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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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