Tree planting tips

Preparation tips

Prior to the planting ensure your soil is of a good quality with added composted manure/lime/sand and clay additions as required. A good tip is to order a cubic metre of screened topsoil that can be used for the planting and help freshen up your flower beds elsewhere in the garden.

Types of tree sold

Trees can be bought as bare roots, as root balls or in containers. Bare root trees are usually just sold in the winter period and are deciduous trees, care must be taken to avoid any frost damage to the roots before planting. In all cases it is advisable to inspect the tree roots and branches for a healthy condition, roots should be substantial and evenly spread out from the root collar, if the roots are too dry then it is best to avoid a purchase. In our experience root ball and container grown trees are usually the best option as long as the roots are not too root bound (packed tightly in the container). Do ensure the soil around the roots is kept moist especially if there is a time gap of several days before planting.

Planting the tree

Dig a whole at least 3 times the diameter of the rootball and loosen the soil around the edges, this will ease the establishment of the rootplate as the tree grows. Fill the hole with water and leave this to infiltrate into the soil, avoid planting a tree in a hole still full of water. Mix in topsoil and mulch before seating the tree into the hole, the root collar (junction of the trunk and roots) should be level with the surrounding surface. Then fill in around the tree roots healing in the extra soil to firm in the roots.

Stake the tree

The best method to stake a tree is using a stake driven into the soil at a 45 degree angle to the trunk. This avoids any chance of damaging the roots from driving the post through the roots parallel to the trunk. A buckle and spacer tie from the stake to the trunk minimises rubbing on the trunk but still gives support in windy conditions. In gardens where the tree could be impacted by lawn mowers and strimmers a tree guard can be wrapped around the trunk for additional protection.

Monitor your tree

For the first year or so it best to ensure the tree is well watered (ideally with rainwater) and kept mulched and fertilised if required. A lack of moisture in the rootball area is the most common cause of dieback and death in trees. Formative pruning needs to be limited until the tree has a reasonable foliage and needs to be done at the right time of the year for each species.

Buying a tree is quite an expensive commitment so giving due care and attention to a successful planting operation is all too important. A healthy well formed tree can reward you with many years of pleasure.