Ask the Expert - Streamlined Planting

Daedre McGrath gives tips on streamlining your planting.

drill auger
Daedra demonstrates the drill auger


I volunteer to plant thousands of annuals along a couple of the main streets in my home-town each year. These marathon planting sessions take forever. Can you suggest any tips to streamline the process? - Joan S. from Midland


I plant at least 30,000 plants each year during a three-week window, so I’m always looking for ways to save time and save my body from injury. Using a hand-trowel to plant flowers one by one is not a reasonable option for me. When I first started my job, we used a long-handled step-down bulb planter to quickly punch planting holes into the ground. Then we would literally toss the plants into the holes and crouch down to back-fill the holes. If you have a team of several people, you can get a nice assembly-line going. You still have to get on your hands and knees to plant the plants, but at least you can dig the holds standing up. Unfortunately, after a few years of stepping down on that bulb planter, I developed a repetitive stress injury, so I sought out a new method for digging the holes. We now use a cordless electric drill with a long-shafted bulb auger attachment. I can drill the holes standing up and it’s easier, faster, and less stressful on the body. We always keep a spare battery in the charger so we can swap them out as needed. Our soils are very free of obstructions so the drill/auger combo works well for us, but might be less effective if you have hard, root-filled, or stony soil. Whether you try to manual or electric bulb planter, they are both relatively inexpensive options that are worth every penny!

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