Installing the plants is done after you have installed almost everything else, including the hardscape and irrigation system.
After deciding on a location for your plant, dig the planting hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the plant container. If you have heavy clay soil, you may want to increase the size of the hole. This step is very important if you have clay soil; the impenetrable clay may become like a clay pot, preventing the plant from extending its roots into the soil and trapping water in the “tub” where it will destroy the plant.
Fill the bottom of the hole with native soil that has been amended (composted material). Put in enough soil, and compact it, so the plant crown will be just above ground-level.
Pre-irrigate the planting hole: fill it with water and allow it to drain into the soil, then add root stimulant (bought at any nursery or big-box store).
Remove the plant from the container, and avoid damaging the roots. If you find the plant had become root-bound (the roots circled around the inside of the container), gently uncurl the roots.
Fill in the rest of the hole with a mix of native soil, high-quality amendments (composted material), and a little starter-fertilizer. You want to use about 60% native soil, so this area becomes a transition zone from the potting soil the plant came in and the native soil around it.
For trees and sometimes shrubs, create a “watering basin” around the base of the plant. Form excess backfill into a circular berm, or mound of earth shaped into a ring around the tree, to direct water to the roots. Slowly fill the area with water and allow it to drain, and then repeat this.
For more detailed instructions on plant installation, please see the Tree of Life Nursery Planting Guide.