Thinking of planting a tree? As we enter autumn it is a great time to choose a good specimen and get your spade out. Trees will be entering in to their dormant stage, whilst the soil is still carrying a little warmth from the summer. This will allow the roots time to get working and adjust to the soil conditions, giving your new tree a good head start.
Planting new trees and shrubs is not a difficult job, but one to get right, if you want your new plants to have the best start in life. The most important considerations are root health, weather, soil conditions and aftercare. Here are some handy steps to follow.
- Remove plants from containers or fabric wrapping (some specimen trees specify that the wrapping be left on under the terms of their guarantee, but normally fabric wrappings should be taken off).
- With the exception of magnolia and eucalyptus which resent root disturbance, trim potbound roots and spread the roots out of bare-root plants to get an idea of their spread. There is no need to trim or tease out roots from rootballs that are not potbound.
- Dig a planting hole that is no deeper than the roots, but is ideally at least three times the diameter of the root system.
- If the sides of the planting hole are compacted, break the soil up with a fork before planting.
- In grassed areas circular planting holes are easier to mow around, but square planting holes aid root penetration at the corners on heavy soils. A square hole within a mowing circle combines the two.
- Soak bare-rooted trees or shrubs for about 30 minutes prior to planting. And give containerised plants a good water before taking them out of their pots.
- Place the tree or shrub in the planting hole and position it so that the first flare of roots are level with the soil surface when planting is complete. With container grown plants, the top layers of compost may need to be scraped away to reveal the flare of roots. Deep planting prevents essential air movement to the root system and makes the lower trunk vulnerable to disease
- Insert a stake if required. Small trees do not require staking, but top heavy or larger specimens will require one.
- Refill the planting hole, carefully placing soil back around the all the roots to eliminate air pockets.
- Firm the soil gently and water in
Enjoy your new tree! Formative pruning may be required in the trees early years to ensure that it matures well. You should contact an arborist to advise/carry out these works.