Trees provide beauty and welcome shade to any garden. Use these tips to get started on planting your own trees.
1. Best time for planting
The ideal planting time for deciduous trees is mid autumn to early spring, providing the ground is neither waterlogged nor frozen. Broad-leaved evergreens and conifers are best planted earlier in the fall or later in spring, when the soil is warm and moist.
2. Choose a planting site
In the case of some soils, inadequate drainage may result in poor growth of newly planted trees; therefore, ensuring good drainage is a prime consideration.
- The first step is proper selection of the planting site. A spot that is swampy or where water tends to collect after a rainfall is not a good place to plant most trees. For the average young tree, the planting hole should be about one metre (three feet) across and 45 centimetres (18 inches) deep — large enough to give the roots room to spread in all directions.
- When the hole is dug, fill it with water to test drainage. If it takes longer than an hour or so to empty, you have a problem that might easily be solved or might require the installation of a whole drainage system.
- Place a layer of rubble in the bottom of the hole to increase aeration. This is of value only if the hole already drains; it will not solve the problem of poor drainage.
- Add sod and compost or leaf mould.Mix the subsoil you have taken out with an equal amount of topsoil, and use to form a thin layer in the hole.
- Tread firmly, fill with water, and let drain.
3. Preparing the roots
Before planting a tree the top branches, and the roots if they are exposed, should be trimmed. Remove roots that have grown around the circumference of the pot or they will continue to engirdle the tree; in effect the tree will still be pot-bound. If the root ball from the container has very little soil showing, make three or four vertical cuts down the roots to encourage them to develop new growth.
4. Planting the tree
Planting is easier if done by two people.
- Let one hold the tree in position while the other places a flat piece of wood across the hole. The old soil mark on the stem should be level with the piece of wood; remove or add soil accordingly. If the tree is bare rooted, make a mound over which to spread the roots.
- With a balled-root tree, now is the time to loosen the top of the burlap, but do not remove it.
- While one person holds the tree upright — or against the stake with a bare-rooted tree — the other should start filling the hole with the soil mix.
- Shake a bare-rooted tree from time to time to make sure that the soil is settling around the roots, and if the soil is sandy, tread it down as you go. In heavier soil, when the roots are covered, soak the area with water to settle the soil before filling the hole.
- Fill in the hole and firm the soil down until it is level with the surrounding ground. The old soil mark on the trunk should be just visible.
- Surround the bare-soil area with a small mound to form a kind of basin to catch and hold water in the root area.
- Keep the surface free of grass and weeds to reduce competition. The following spring, you can apply a layer of mulch.