Planting bars were designed for use with bareroot stock, but this tool is also used for planting smaller container plants. Bars are typically cylindrical with a wedge-shaped blade welded on the tip and side pedals used to force the blade into the soil. Like dibbles, the use of planting bars requires little experience or training.
Planting bars are useful for planting in confined spaces or in hard, rocky, or debris-covered soils. They are also useful for reforestation of sites with sandy soils. Planting bars, however, can cause compaction when used in heavy or clay soils. Soil compaction can inhibit root growth and increase frost heaving. Planting bars are durable and simple to maintain, with only occasional blade sharpening required. Planting bars are typically fabricated by welding a rectangular or wedge-shaped steel blade, a handle, and side pedals to a steel bar.
Planting bars are forced into the ground using the side pedals and worked back and forth to form a planting hole.
The nursery plant is positioned vertically along one side of the hole. The hole is then closed by inserting the bar into the soil on the opposite side of the planting hole and rocking the bar back and forth. The final step is to remove any air pockets by tamping down any loose soil around the plant. Soil tamping can be done with fists or boots.
References / Additional Information
Haase, D.L.; Landis, T.D.; Dumroese, R.K. 2014. Outplanting [Chapter 17]. In: Wilkinson, K.M.; Landis, T.D.; Haase, D.L.; Daley, B.F.; Dumroese, R. K., eds. Tropical nursery manual: A guide to starting and operating a nursery for native and traditional plants. Agriculture Handbook 732. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 313-337.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2022. Planting a tree with a shovel or planting bar. 1 p.
Shaw, N.L.; Halford A; McAdoo, J.K. 2015. Establishing big sagebrush and other shrubs from planting stock. Great Basin Factsheet Series No. 8. Sage Grouse Initiative. 6 p.