Here are a few simple tips on how to plant a tree for gardeners looking to expand their garden over the coming months. Tree planting is something we should all be doing more. But if you are planting trees, there are a number of things that you need to bear in mind.
As a gardener, you can play your part in tackling our climate crisis and helping wildlife in your area by learning how to plant a tree, or even several trees, properly in your garden. Of course, planting trees can be extremely beneficial for you too. Trees can provide us with a range of yields, and improve our environments in a range of different ways. These tips should help you make sure you get your trees off to the best possible start and can enjoy and benefit from them for many years to come.
Most trees are best planted over the dormant season, between around November and March. So these tips should help you as you consider which trees to choose, where to plant them, and how to do so, and how to care for them once you do.
The Most Important of Our Tips On How To Plant A Tree: Choose Your Tree or Trees Wisely
Tree planting obviously begins with choosing your tree or trees. Choosing the right tree for your garden means thinking very carefully about your specific garden, the climate, micro-climate, soil, and the environmental conditions that you can provide. For example, if you have a small garden, you want to go for small trees that are suitable for UK gardens, not large weeping willows!
It also involves thinking carefully about what you want to achieve, the the best tree for your needs and wishes. Be sure to consider not only the needs and benefits of a particular tree you are considering, but also how large it will grow, and how long it will take to reach that size. Be sure to choose a tree that will work within the space available. Choose your tree and your specific planting location wisely.
There are plenty of native trees that will thrive in UK gardens when it comes to understanding how to plant a tree, including:
- Silver birch
- Bird cherry
- Crab apple
- Dog rose
You can find more suitable trees here.
Make Sure You Dig a Large Enough Planting Hole
Once you have selected your tree or trees, make sure that you dig a large enough planting hole. When a you are planting a lot of trees at once, you can position them in a slit, or t-shaped gap. However, for best results in a garden, you should usually aim to dig a hole which is the same depth as the pot or root system to the previous soil level, and three times as wide.
Many gardeners will simply dig a hole which is large enough to accommodate the roots, and this can work. But creating a wider hole can allow the roots to spread out, and can give better results as it will be easier for the tree or trees to become established.
Soak Roots Before Tree Planting
Whether you have purchased new trees in pots, or bare root trees to plant over the dormant period, it is important to make sure that the roots have not dried out. To make sure water needs are met, it can be a good idea to soak the roots thoroughly before you plant out.
While you should also water after planting, soaking the roots before you plant out your new tree or trees can help make sure that the roots have access to the water you need during this crucial early stage of establishment.
Make Sure Your Tree is Level
Once you have soaked the roots, place the tree in the planting hole and spread out the roots. If pot grown trees have become a little root bound, tease out the roots a little to encourage them to grow outwards.
Another crucial thing to think about – and another of our tree planting tips, is making sure that, as you firm back the soil around the roots, the tree remains level. Once you are happy with the position and angle of your tree, firm back the soil around the base of the plant.
Check That There are No Air Pockets Around Your Tree
As you firm back the soil around your new tree or trees, make sure that the soil goes right in around the roots. You want to check to make sure that there are no larger air pockets around the base and that the soil surrounds the tree firmly, but is not compacted.
How To Plant A Tree for Pest Control: Protect Your Tree From Pests the Eco-Friendly Way
Plastic tree guards are often used to protect newly planted trees from pests. But there are more eco-friendly alternatives to make sure that rabbits, deer or other pests don’t ring the bark around the base of your newly planted tree and potentially kill it. Consider adding low fencing made from reclaimed wood, or natural branches. Place hedgerows and other planted features to prevent pest intrusion, or at least reduce its risk. Or use cardboard or wool collars as a biodegradable alternative.
Stake Top Heavy Trees
While not all trees will need staking, top heavy trees, especially those in exposed locations, may require some support. Place stakes at a 45 degree angle to the main trunk of the tree. And tie the tree to this stake using a biodegradable natural twine.
Mulch After Tree Planting
Trees are often great low-maintenance options which, once established, will require little care. But as many of our tree planting tips address, a little care early on in a tree’s life can certainly help get them off to a good start. In a garden, it is a good idea to mulch around newly planted trees with organic matter, such as a good quality garden compost, leaf mould, or wood chip. Mulch helps reduce weed competition. It keeps moisture in the soil and reduces watering needs. Mulch also adds slow-release fertility and will help build and protect the soil around your tree or trees over time.
Weed and Water Well Until Your New Tree or Trees Become Established
Mature trees can cope with competition. But newly planted trees can be more easily reduced in vigour by competition from other plants. As well as adding mulch, you should also be on the lookout for weeds around your new tree or trees, and should remove any that pose a problem. You should also, of course, make sure that you water well, especially during dry periods in the first summer after planting.
Consider Companion Planting and Create Guilds For Productive Trees
To really boost the long term health and vitality of productive trees – like fruit and nut trees in particular – it can be beneficial to think about beneficial plants which can be placed around them and close by. Creating fruit tree guilds and forest garden schemes around your new trees can help you make sure you keep them healthy, while making the most of your garden. Trees should not be considered in isolation. They should be considered holistically, as part of broader ecosystems of diverse plants and wildlife in your garden.
How To Plant A Tree: In Summary
These simple tips on how to plant a tree should help you with adding your new trees, and making sure that they get off to the best possible start and grace your garden for many years to come. If you have more tips to share, please do let us know through the links below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.