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This months How to Blog post is about how to plant a tree. Planting a tree and watching it grow is a very satisfying experience. It’s also a great activity to involve children in. Do it right and you will need minimum intervention with maximum enjoyment.
This how to post will offer good advice for anyone wanting to plant tree.
Most importantly you’ll learn how to give a tree the best start in life and every chance of surviving into the future. First, have a good look at your site. It may be that you only have one available position and must work with what you’ve got.
If you do have a few options select the right site that has free space, good drainage and adequate sunlight. With some form of shelter from the wind and has the best soil. You can try and change conditions if they are not right.
However it’s much easier and more likely to work if the site offers the best conditions already. Look at the soil in more detail. Sandy soil is free draining but lacks nutrients, so you may need to add compost.
Clay soil is prone to water-logging and has nutrients but they are bound up, so you may need to dig sand through it. If your soil is very light in colour and crumbly it may be lacking in nutrients. Mixing well rotted compost through will help.
If your soil looks dark, is slightly moist, and has earth worms you have hit the jackpot.
This type of soil will be ideal for a wide range of plants. These first two pieces of information will help you decide on the best tree. Certain trees thrive in specific soil types; others are all-rounders and will make do.
The internet is full of advice for this and a good website to start with is https://www.thompson-morgan.com/plants-for-soil-types. You also need to consider the function of the tree.
- Is the tree for shade?
- You’d like a tree for screening?
- To plant a tree for a nice appearance?
- A tree for your flowers?
- To have lots of foliage?
- More trees to attract wildlife?
Once you know the answers to these questions start looking in a plant book or in an online directory for trees that match your requirements. Once you have decided on a tree imagine it fully grown in the site you have selected.
Information about eventual heights can be found online, in books or at nurseries. Will the tree fit in the space? What will it be shading? This process can help you decide the most suitable tree for your site.
Next step to how to plant a tree is the digging.
The hole needs to be large enough to accommodate all the roots and any soil that is attached to them. Make any preparations to the soil at this stage. If you are looking to add nutrients to the soil use well-rotted compost.
This will release nutrients and a rate that will be more in line with absorption of the plant. Plant the tree to a depth of “nursery line” this is the height the soil reached up the trunk when it was growing in the nursery.
For root balled or container grown trees this will be obvious. For bare root trees you should see a line just above where the roots start growing.
Once the tree is in the pit to the right depth back fill with the soil that came out of the hole. Either as it is or with compost, or sand, or both mixed through it depending on your soil type. Firm the soil down but be careful not to compact it, the soil needs small amounts of air to stay healthy.
Now for the stake. The stake is there to hold the roots in position, so they do not move in the ground and can grow out from the hole. For this reason, it only needs to be about a third of the height of the stem. The stem gets stronger by swaying around in the breeze, so it is important not to stake the tree too high.
The last stages are to apply mulch around the base of the tree and water it. For more details see our how to mulch a tree post. At the start water the tree every 2-3 days with about 20 litres of water. This may need to be adjusted for very dry or very wet conditions or for larger trees.
More information about planting trees can be found here https://www.arborday.org/trees/planting/