Plant a tree or shrub

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Planting a tree. How hard can it be? Extra care at planting time may not be a matter of life and death. However, it is often the difference between rapid establishment and a slow, lacklustre start. A poorly planted tree or shrub may never reach its full potential.

Always read the plant label to make sure it suits your site and soil conditions - 'the right plant for the right place' is a key factor in survival and performance. Check for frost tenderness, drought tolerance, and site prefence. Then plant as follows to ensure prosperous results!

  1. Water thoroughly to ensure the plant's root ball is completely saturated before planting.
  2. Dig a hole at least twice as wide and one and a half times deeper than plant's root ball (ie it's nursery bag or pot).
  3. Mix compost and controlled-release fertiliser into the soil extracted from hole.
  4. Backfill the hole with the compost and fertiliser enriched soil, up to the depth of the plant container or root ball.
  5. Remove the plant from its container. Gently loosen any tightly packed roots, removing damaged ones with sharp secateurs.
  6. Place the plant in the hole with the top of the root ball at ground level, adjusting the soil level in the base of the hole to accommodate the plant at the correct level.
  7. Position stakes, if required, taking care not to damage roots as you hammer them in place. Staking is important for most young trees to anchor the plant against wind while the roots get established. The best way is to have two or three stakes, evenly spaced around the tree, just outside the root ball. A single stake can result in damage via the tree rubbing against the stake. Tie firmly with flexible ties. On windy sites, windbreak or frost protection cloth may be necessary for the first few years.
  8. Replace the soil, enriched with compost and fertiliser, packing it firmly around the roots with your foot or hands.
  9. Water to settle plant into planting hole and ensure the soil around the roots is moist.
  10. Mulch with fine bark or compost to help retain moisture and protect roots from drying out.

Extra notes

  • In poorly drained soil, plant on built up mounds to provide extra drainage.
  • When planting grafted plants, such as roses and fruit trees, don't bury the graft (the knobbly part above roots). Plant only as deep as the top of the root ball.
  • Some plants, such as conifers, do not like having their roots disturbed.
  • Exactly how you plant will depend on the plants specific needs, the prevailing climate and soil type.