How Should I Amend The Soil When Planting Native Shrubs?

Q: How should I amend the soil when planting native shrubs?

A: I know it seems better to amend the soil with organic matter, but the latest research shows that unless you are planting in pure clay, amending soil doesn’t do much for woody plants. It is always better to remove as much planting media from the roots as you can and spread the roots in all directions, keeping the uppermost root no more than an inch deep. Fertilizing is best accomplished with a layer of arborist woodchips a couple of inches thick spread around the plant but not touching the trunk. If you it makes you feel better, you can put out a light application of organic fertilizer like Holly-Tone or Dr. Earth in early spring. Nothing more is needed.