Answer: When you do a foundation planting such as this, it is a good idea to remove any existing vegetation first. You can dig it out or kill it with an herbicide containing glyphosate, or you may be able to smother it under a thick layer of newspaper topped with organic mulch.
When you plant, dig a hole several times wider than the rootball or container and about the same depth. Loosen the soil at the sides and bottom of the hole. Then plant so the plant is set at the same depth as it grew before. After planting, water thoroughly, slowly and deeply, to settle air pockets.
Then mulch around the plant with organic mulch. Put the mulch in a flat layer two to three inches deep over the root area but do not allow it to touch the stems or trunk. Maintain the mulch by raking it periodically and replenish it as needed to keep it at three inches thick. The mulch should keep down weeds, reduce the need for watering and also feeds the soil slowly as it breaks down over time.
Plastic is not recommended for permanent plantings such as this because it prevents air and rain from reaching the plants' roots, prevents the mulch from contacting the soil where it can break down naturally, and creates an unhealthy environment for plant growth.
When you select your plants, make sure they are suited to growing conditions where you are planting: sun or shade and at what time of day, soil type, is it extra wet or dry or average, is it windy in that spot? How much space is available for the shrub to grow and mature over time? Do you want evergreen or deciduous, and so on.
Enjoy your planting project!
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