Planting Trees and Shrubs in Alberta

Planning to plant and planting trees and shrubs with Paulette Sparks with Wild Country Gardens


Planting trees and shrubs is a big deal.  They last a long time and each tree and shrub has its own life style.  Make sure the trees and shrubs you plan to plant are what you really want in your yard before you plant.  


Things to know prior to Planting

What Hardiness Zone do I live in: 

This is the most important piece of information you will need to know.  

When planning to purchase trees and shrubs ensure that they are hardy for your zone. Hardy means they will survive in your zone based on the average temperatures and growing season.  Most trees and shrubs will have a zone hardy number on them.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is buying plants that are not hardy to our zones.  The first year the tree or shrub may do great and if we have a mild winter it may come back for a few years and then one bad winter and the tree or shrub winter kills.  Trees that come from BC will not generally grow in my area as our climate is too cold, whereas if I buy from Manitoba they will do well. 

Things to consider prior to purchasing:

Is the tree or shrub meant for my zone?

Does it produce fruit?

How much room will my tree or shrub need? (Height and Width)

What type of soil does it prefer?

How much light does it require?

What is the expected life expectancy?

Does it send out suckers or are the roots large and spread?

Does it shed seed pods?

Don’t let these questions scare you they are meant only to help you. You may not be able to answer all these questions but it will give you a starting point of what to think about.

Some of our disasters:

  • We planted several cherry shrubs in a low laying area.  But cherry trees and shrubs don’t like their roots wet.  This resulted in the shrubs doing poorly and some even died. We were able to move some of them and they did survive but we did lose a few. 
  • We have a row of black currants next to a row of haskaps/honeyberries and after 5 years of growing we now see we planted them too close together. Five years later we have to fix the problem, which means moving one or the other. Thankfully black currants are easy to move so our only loss will be a few hours of work.
  • I had no idea how big a pear tree would grow – I just want to have pears!  I laid out my plan and thought 6 feet apart would be a good distance apart. But no, after six years of the trees growing, I now know that they should have been sixteen feet apart. They are huge trees and need lots of space. I will have to keep these tree pruned and limit their growing each year as they are too old to move now without the danger of killing them.


These are just a few examples of why it is so important to know what you are planting prior to digging a hole.

Schubert Chokecherry


Planting the trees and shrubs requires research.

What is the best time of year to plant the tree or shrub?

How big do I need the hole?

How deep should I plant the tree or shrub?

Is the tree or shrub grafted? If so does the graft need to be covered?


Most trees and shrubs will have a tag on them that explains how to plant and what, if any special requirements.  If it doesn’t have the required information provided on the tag then try googling the information or phone a greenhouse that specializes in tree and shrubs to get the information.  I like to plant trees that bring a benefit to my yard and as we have an orchard I’m a fruit tree and shrub lover.  There are a lot of benefits to growing fruit trees but you must be able to deal with the fruit each year that your tree will produce.  We have friends that grow fruit trees but don’t want the fruit. Fruit left on the trees can attach unwanted visitors such as bears; so make sure you plan for everything your trees has to offer.


High bush Cranberry in bloom

Caring for tree and shrubs once they are planted

Once you have planted your trees or shrubs you will need to care for them.  Make sure they are watered and that you are stimulating new root growth.  Root growth can be stimulated using bone meal when you plant them or a root booster fertilizer after they are planted.

In the years to follow trees need to be pruned and fertilized to keep them growing healthy. Knowing what to use is a hard question to answer but your local greenhouse that specializes in trees should be able to sell you what you will need.

I love planting trees and as my husband calls it more holes to dig.  We have learnt so much about planting over the past 15 years and there is still so much more to learn.

Don’t be afraid to plant trees and shrubs just do your homework prior to planting by getting to know your tree or shrub before you plant it. 

Some of our favorite trees and shrubs are:

High Bush Cranberry – This shrub has so many changes in one season, it starts by leafing out in a nice lime green color, then the large white blooms form which then turns onto large clusters of green berries, into the fall the shrub starts to change color to a golden red and the clusters of fruit that turn into beautiful red berries.

Shubert Chokecherry – Starts off in the spring as a light green tree and as the season moves on it turns from reddish tinge to a dark purple gives an ever-changing landscape view.

U of S Cherry Shrubs – There are six varieties each having a little different fruit and habits. They are great for large or small areas and provide a dazzling display of flowers and fruit. 

U of S Haskap (Honey Berry) Shrubs – these guys are the most hardy of shrubs and are so interesting to grow and can be used in large or small area.  We have ours in a hedge style and also in rows but always remember you must have a least two varieties to produce fruit. These are the first tree to bloom in our orchard and the bumble bees love them but so do the Wax Wing birds so you might have to net them to get berries.


U of S Haskap (honeyberry) hedge


We have a variety of fruit trees in our orchard and are more than willing to have you come visit us at Wild Country Gardens.  We ask that you call ahead and book a time prior to coming to see us. We are also open for Open Farm Days and will be providing tours of the orchard.

For more information see our webpage at

If you have any questions email me at


Happy Planning and Planting!

Author: Paulette Sparks from Wild Country Gardens in Wildwood Alberta.