- 1). Prepare the soil before planting hemlock trees. Loosen the soil with a garden fork, creating a fine-planting medium, free of large chunks of earth. Broken soil will allow the roots the freedom to expand as they grow. Test the pH of the soil using a soil testing kit. Hemlocks prefer soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. If your soil does not meet the pH requirements, you will need to amend.
- 2). Add lime to the soil if the soil test reveals a pH below 5.0. If the soil test reads above 6.0, mix peat moss in with the soil. Apply the required amendment to the soil according to manufacturer's instructions. Add the lime or peat moss to the soil using a garden shovel. The University of Florida suggests mixing the lime in with the soil at a depth of 6-inches.
- 3). Dig holes for the hemlock trees twice the width of their root balls and equal in depth. Space each hole a minimum of 20 feet apart.
- 4). Remove the hemlock trees from their nursery containers, leaving the root balls intact. Set one hemlock in the center of each hole. Check that the graft union (transition where roots meet trunk) of each tree rests above the soil line. Add soil to the bottom of the hole to raise the hemlock if the graft union falls below the soil line.
- 5). Backfill the holes halfway with soil. Moisten the soil with water from a garden hose to secure the roots of the hemlock trees. Tamp down the soil around each trunk after backfilling to remove air pockets.
- 6). Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch under the canopy of each hemlock tree. A layer of bark chips, straw or pine needles will help to improve drainage and reduce weed growth. Spread the mulch 6 inches from the trunks of the trees to prevent pest infestations.
- 7). Water the hemlock tree deeply each week using a soaker hose. Keep the soil moist at a 1-inch depth at all times. Twice-a-week waterings may be necessary to keep the soil moist during dry weather. Once established, the hemlocks will only require watering during droughts.
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