How do you make a raised bed garden? How do you transplant Balsam Fir?


Two questions:
1. We are going to make raised-bed gardens this spring. What bulletins/publications do you have to help us? 
2. We are going to plant a hedgerow. We have woods on our land, we hope to transplant the “nursery stock” from our forest to hedgerow. We have identified a lot of young what we believe to be Balsam Firs. Do Balsam Fir transplant well? When is it safe for us to do so? How big does the root ball have to be? We will plant them in April. Is that too early as long as we are able to dig in the ground? Any brochures/publications for us on this subject?


Jonathan Foster, Community Education Assistant

First, for raised bed information, I recommend this great publication from the University of MN Extension: It will help you get a handle on the different options and how to proceed with them. More information on raised beds can be found in and

You can then consult our UMaine planting schedule resource for how, when, and how much to plant for common vegetable garden plants: MOFGA produces a nice one, as well: More specific information can be provided if you are using the beds for ornamentals instead of edibles.

As far as the balsam transplants are concerned, your time table is theoretically fine: the goal is to move them after the soil has become workable (so you don’t damage roots or tools), but while the tree is still dormant (before it flushes out leaves). You’ll have to evaluate where we are in April. Balsam fir does transplant well, and we typically recommend a dug root ball of about 12″ diameter per inch of thickness of the trunk. When selecting your site, you want a hole of approximately the same depth as the root ball and about twice as wide so you can fill in with fresh soil. Don’t plant the tree too deeply–covering the crown with soil can lead to rot issues later, so pay particular attention to the hole filling procedures.

Also, plan ahead for how big these trees will be at maturity so that they aren’t crowded; this is your best/only chance to site them correctly. Some people pursuing this type of project plant twice as many plants as needed to make a quicker screen, planning to remove every other tree as they grow and begin to compete. But that’s twice as much digging and transplanting work, so it’s easier to make peace with the row looking a little sparse for a while.

Good information on the transplant process can be found at and