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Shore Stewards Guide for Shoreline Living — Section 2

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Shore Stewards Guide for Shoreline Living — Section 2

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Planting Tips

Don’t plant too deep. The top of the root ball or plant crown should be at the same level or just one-half inch above the surrounding soil. If planted too deep, the plant stem can rot and the roots suffocate.

Disturb roots. Remove the plant from the pot and pull loose roots outward and cut or straighten any that are encircling the root ball. This encourages the roots to grow into the surrounding soil. If it no longer looks like a root ball, you’ve done well.

Don’t dig your hole too deep. Dig a saucer-shaped hole that is two to three times the width of the root mass. Build a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole. Splay out the roots so they are pointing to the surrounding soils (Figure 15).

Don’t add soil amendments. Coastal plants are adapted to low-nutrient soils. Adding fertilizer or compost in your planting hole will encourage weeds as well as discourage the roots from spreading into native soils.

Don’t stomp! We were taught to really pack those roots down—sometimes even pushing down with our feet. This can tear the roots off your plant, which definitely isn’t good for them. Compact the soil with your hands.

Water plants immediately. Watering will settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Add more soil to holes that appear. If you are adding mulch as a weed suppressant, be sure to keep the mulch from touching the stem of the plant. Newly planted natives need regular watering their first two to three years until they’re established in a landscape. Water more the first summer, and much less with each passing year so the plants adapt to the drought conditions they’ll ultimately have to endure on their own.

For more home gardening information go to

Managing Weeds

When a plant is growing in a place where it is unwanted, we call it a weed. Many weeds were brought to our area as garden plants that have now spread into the wild. These plants are often adaptable, hardy, and have the ability to choke out native species. Invasive weeds are particularly aggressive, non-native plants and are considered noxious if they are harmful to the environment, people, livestock, or agriculture.

Figure 15. Plant at the right depth. Illustration by Shelby Ruiz, CAHNRS Communications.
An example is Himalayan knotweed, which can take over stream corridors, choking out native plants and reducing wildlife habitats. Some weeds are legally listed by the state and county as noxious weeds; these weeds are required to be controlled. Check with your county Noxious Weed Control Board to identify listed noxious weeds.

Some methods to managing weeds include:

Avoid disturbing the soil. Many weed seeds remain in the soil, waiting for light to initiate germination. If left undisturbed, they will likely remain dormant. Avoid the use of tillers, and hand-cultivate lightly, if at all.

Use organic mulch. Smothering the weed seeds with organic mulches (straw, layers of newspaper, mulch, and cardboard) will block the light out and eventually degrade, improving the soil.



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