The earth has been prepped. Your plan is clearly marked. The plugs have arrived. Now what?
If the plants were shipped in boxes, remove them as soon as you can. If you have to wait, store them inside, or at least in the shade. If they’ve come off a pallet, same thing – let them breathe somewhere cool(er) and shady. If they’re coming off a truck, lucky you! Rustle up some workers and have them march the trays straight to the area where they’re getting planted. There’s nothing as efficient as touching those trays only twice – once to bring ’em over, and once to remove ’em.
No hair pulling now. Don’t tug on the top growth to remove the plugs from their channels. Give a little squeeze to the channel itself — yah, it’s a little like milking a cow — to encourage the roots to loosen up. If they’re really hanging on there, use a pencil to loosen them from the drainage hole end.
The next step is make sure you’ve got someone ready to plant. Ready. As in, tool in hand, coffee finished. They’re going to be following you as you place the plants, so the roots have no time to dry out.
Determine the spacing you want between plants. See the previous post on calculating this for plugs.
OK, so let’s say this tray’s plants are getting laid out 12″ apart? No measuring tape? No problem. You spent a few minutes getting to know your own personal measuring devices. Is your hand with thumb and pinkie outstretched 8″? When you make an “L” with your index finger and your thumb, is the space 6.5″? Is your foot in its boot 14″? How about the width of your two feet when placed right next to each other? How far do you go when you take two normal steps? There you go. Start placing the plants.
And one last trick. No laying out plants in straight lines. Even triangular patterns make straight lines when you view them in a particular direction. So even though you are laying out plants with mostly-even spacing, tweak them just enough that there are no straight lines. It will be easier on the eyes, trust me.
When you’re all finished, don’t remove the tray until you’ve counted the empty holes in it, so you can make notes of how many plants you’ve put in a particular area. It is mind-bending to try to count plants installed in a landscape when there are no straight lines. <grin>.
Planting day. My favorite. How many plugs can you plant in an hour?