Planting bars originated with bareroot stock, but this tool is also used for smaller container plants. Bars are typically cylindrical with a wedge-shaped blade welded on the tip, and side pedals to help force the blade into the soil. Like dibbles, planting bars require little experience or training.
Bars are useful for planting in confined spaces or hard, rocky, or debris-covered soils. They can cause compaction when used in heavy or clay soils, and soil compaction can inhibit root growth and increase frost heaving. They are also popular in the reforestation of sites with sandy soils. Planting bars are durable and simple to maintain, with only occasional blade sharpening required. Bars are typically fabricated by welding a wedge-shaped blade welded on the tip and adding side pedals above.
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 to planting using a planting bar is to tamp down any loose soil around the plant, removing any air pockets. Soil tamping can be done with fists or boots. Planting bars are often preferred for rocky soils but should not be used in heavier textured clays where they cause excessive compaction.
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.
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.