How to Plant a Tree
How to Plant a Tree
You’ve chosen your perfect tree and all that remains to do is wait eagerly for it to be delivered. When it arrives, you’ll want to give your new addition the very best start in life - read on for all you need to know about planting your tree.
It’s best to plant your tree as soon as possible after it arrives, preferably on the same day. If that's not possible, then keep the tree hydrated until you can plant it.
If the tree is bare root (no pot) and you can’t plant it because the ground is frozen, for example, then soak it in water for about 30 minutes, wrap it loosely in plastic to keep the roots moist and store it in a cool place such as a shed or unheated greenhouse. It will be fine like this for a few days.
If the tree has arrived in a pot and looks a little dry, give it a watering.
Choosing the Perfect Spot
When choosing a position for your new tree, think about how tall and wide the tree will grow (this information will be on the label or the website) and what its impact could be for any surrounding structures or plants. For example, avoid planting large trees next to buildings where the roots could disturb foundations, or above smaller plants which could be deprived of light.
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot if possible, where strong winds will not damage any blossom or fruit.
If you are planning on training your tree up a wall, plant the tree at least a foot away from it to give the roots space to grow. See the product description of the tree to see how far apart they should be spaced if you are planting multiple trees.
Preparing the Soil
Dig a square hole around 3x wider but no deeper than the pot or root system. Break up the soil at the sides and bottom of the hole with a fork to improve drainage, mix in some compost and sprinkle an even layer of rooting hormone (such as Rootgrow) into the hole to encourage healthy root development.
Square holes encourage the roots to grow to the corners and spread out into the soil.
If you are planting a potted tree then tip it upside down holding onto the root ball and pull it out of its pot gently. Then gently break up the outside of the soil with your fingers, teasing the roots out.
Place the tree into the hole.The rootball (potted trees) or graft mark (Bareroot trees - this is a notch or joint at the very base of the trunk above the roots, which appears darker than the trunk) should be in line with the surface of the soil. If the trunk is submerged too deeply in soil this can cause rot which could weaken or even kill the tree.
Backfill the hole with your soil mix and then firm down the soil gently with your foot or hands. Ensure the tree is now snug in the ground and will not fall down too easily.
Water the ground to give the tree a drink and help further settle the soil around the roots.
Supporting your Tree
For the first two years your young tree will need to be supported with a stake. A soft wood stake is best.
Plant the stake about 30cm away from the base of the tree at a 45 degree angle. Where the tree and stake meet, tie them loosely together with a soft tree tie so there is about 3-5cm of space for the trunk to grow.
After 2-3 years the tree should have established a strong enough root system to be able to support itself without the need for a stake.
It is important to keep the tree well watered during its first couple of years. During dry spells you should make sure the soil never dries out completely.
Once a year, it’s a good idea to cover the surface around the tree with a mulch such as wood chippings to suppress weeds and also keep the ground moist.
You can also wrap a tree guard around your tree when it is young to protect it against animal damage.
Now that you’ve given your tree the very best start in life, you can sit back and enjoy it for years to come!