Planting A New Tree

Planting a New Tree

Planting a tree is a future investment for many years to come. How well your investment grows and prospers depends upon appropriate selection of species and location, how carefully you plant your tree and the care you give afterwards.

When to Plant

Trees should be planted during the dormant season in the Autumn after the leaves have fallen or in early spring. During this time the weather conditions are cool and plants can establish their roots in their new location before spring rain and summer warmth stimulate new growth. If trees are healthy they can be planted all through the growing seasons long as appropriate care is given.

Stress Of Planting

Trees lose a large amount of their root system when dug out at the nursery. Because of this, trees usually suffer from ‘transplant shock’. This causes slowed growth and reduced vitality after transplanting. Proper preparation of your site, careful handling to minimise root damage, and suitable aftercare reduces transplant shock and makes for faster recovery.

Follow the steps below to help your tree establish and prosper in its new location.

  • Check for trunk flare. Trunk flare is the point where the trunk becomes larger at the base of the tree. Trunk flare should be visible after the tree has been planted. You should remove excess soil from the top of the root ball before planting if root flare is not visible.
  • Dig a shallow and broad hole for your tree. The hole should be approximately 2.5 times wider than the root ball, but only the same depth as the root ball. Digging a wide hole breaks up the soil around the roots and allows them to easily expand.
  • Remove the pot or cut away the container. Check the tree root ball for circling roots. Straighten, cut, or remove them if any are found.
  • Make sure the hole is the proper depth. Most of the tree’s roots will develop in the top 12 inches of soil. Because of this, if the tree is planted too deep, new roots will develop poorly due to a lack of oxygen. In badly drained and clayed soils, trees can be planted with trunk flare 2 to 3 inches higher above ground.
  •  Make sure the tree is standing straight before backfilling the hole. One or two stakes used in conjunction with tree ties are useful to support the tree against wind and vandalism. View the tree from several directions and confirm it appears upright from all angles.
  • Gently fill the hole with soft soil and pack it around the base of the root ball to stabilise it and to eliminate air pockets that can dry out roots. You can further reduce air pockets by watering intermittently while backfilling the hole. Do not fertilise at the time of planting.
  • You can also stake the tree. Staked trees establish themselves more quickly and develop a stronger trunk and root system. Staking can also be useful when planting on windy sites and can also offer protection against a lawn mower The stake should hold the tree upright and minimise injury to the trunk, yet still allow movement. Support staking and ties should be removed after the first years growth.
  • Mulch the base of the new tree. Mulch is organic matter and should be spread at the base of a tree. It holds moisture, moderates the soil temperature, and reduces grass and weeds. Mulches include shredded leaf, shredded bark, peat moss, and composted wood chips. A 3 inch layer is ideal. Using more than 4 inches can cause problems with oxygen and moisture levels. Avoid piling mulch against the trunk of a tree as this can cause the bark to decay. Leave an area 2 inches wide at the base of the tree to reduce moist bark and prevent decay.
  • Follow up care. You should keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Water trees at least once a week, and more often especially during hot or windy weather. Check if the soil is dry below the surface of the mulch, this is the time to water. Continue to water until autumn, and ease off as lower temperatures require watering less often. Other important follow up care can include pruning of branches that were damaged during the transportation and planting process. Do not prune excessively after planting and delay further corrective pruning until after a full season of growth in the new planting location.