Gardening > Planting Trees

Planting Trees

Planting Trees

Planting Trees
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A carefully chosen tree is an asset to any garden. The choice should be made bearing in mind the likely height and spread of the tree when it is mature. A little shade from a tree is a bonus allowing the gardener to grow a wide range of shade and sun-loving plants but if the tree is too large for the garden the resulting deep shade will destroy plants and grass.

Ornamental trees are good for attracting wildlife. Birds will flock to trees that produce berries; pollinating insects are attracted to flowering trees and some trees with loose bark like birch provide a habitat for insects which are a good source of food for birds.

Trees are available as container-grown or bear-rooted. Container-grown trees are usually found in garden centres and tend to be more expensive than bare-rooted ones. For obvious reasons container grown trees are fairly small and they can be bought and planted out all year long. Bare-rooted trees have to be planted out during their dormant phase i.e. in the winter. They are available through mail-order from nurseries and they can be bought at a larger size than container grown trees.

When the bare-rooted tree arrive unpack it at once. If the ground is frozen or extremely wet put off planting out until the weather is better. The tree can be stored in a frost-free shed or it can be heeled into a temporary trench. To prepare for planting dig a hole that is deep enough to accommodate the roots and allow the tree to be planted to the level of the old soil mark on the stem (the depth to which the tree was originally planted). You need a stake that is twice as thick as the stem of the tree. Once driven 18 inches into the soil it should come one-third of the way up the tree. Put the tree into the hole and half refill it adding a good bucket-full of organic matter to the soil. Firm the soil with your foot and then completely fill in the hole and firm the soil again. Secure the tree stem with a suitable tie and then put a mulch of well-rotted manure or compost around the roots.

To plant a container-grown tree, dig a similar hole that is large enough to accommodate the root ball. Water the tree whilst it is still in the container to make it easy to remove. Place the tree in the hole and refill the hole with soil mixed with some organic matter. When the hole is filled in and firmed make a little wall with some of the in-fill soil in a circle around the tree about 2 feet away from it. This makes an area that can be filled with water so the roots are certain of getting a good soaking. Lack of water is a common cause of death in container-grown trees. To secure a container-grown tree drive two 2 inch stakes 18 inches into the soil within the soil walls. Once driven into the soil they should come one third of the way up the tree. Then nail a third piece of wood to the two stakes to form a crossbar. Secure the tree to the crossbar with a suitable plant-tie (one designed to prevent rubbing). Water the tree regularly and thoroughly and about six weeks after planting level out the soil wall and mulch around the roots with well-rotted manure or compost.

Points to bear in mind:

1/ If planting trees in an area of grass or uncultivated ground prepare the soil by breaking up the subsoil and working in plenty of organic matter.
2/ Do not use spent mushroom compost as it is too alkaline.
3/ If you use peat add a few handfuls of blood, fish and bonemeal.