Q. Two of my Italian Cypress trees died so I am replacing them. What size do you suggest I buy and how to I prepare the area prior to planting and correct way to plant them?
A. Get the smallest plants you can find if that size is acceptable to you. I would start with five gallon plants if it were me. They will catch up to larger plants in a very short time.
Amend the soil with about 50% compost to a depth equal to the depth of the container. The whole should be dug a distance 3 to 5 times the diameter of the planting container. It is more important to dig the hole wide than it is deep. If the soil is particularly hard to dig beneath the container then I would take a posthole digger and dig a chimney at the bottom of the container and fill that hole with amended soil to improve drainage.
Thoroughly soak this area several times after you planted the trees. Five gallon plants should not need to be staked. With improved drainage they should be able to handle more frequent irrigations without problems if that is necessary.
Fertilize them once in January or February with an all-purpose tree and shrub fertilizer.
Put them on a valve with other trees and shrubs. They will do fine on the same valve with most of your landscape trees and large shrubs as well as fruit trees.