Mature trees sold in containers (pots and bags) can be planted at any time of year, whilst rootballs can only be planted from November to March. We strongly recommend two people for planting mature trees (or more for the largest sizes). There is a separate guide for information on planting non-mature trees.
To plant, you will need a staking kit suitable for the size of tree, compost, lump hammer and spade.
1. Remove all weeds and grass within a metre of your desired planting hole, then dig a hole as deep as the container/rootball and approximately twice as wide. Some authorities believe a square hole is better as it encourages the roots to grow straight as opposed to around inside the hole. Loosen the soil in the bottom.
2. Remove the container and place the tree in the hole so that it is upright and the surface of the compost is flush with, or slightly raised above, the soil level of your site. You should not remove the cane if one is present or the wire cage from a rootballed tree. We recommend sprinkling mycorrhizal fungi around the rootmass, to improve establishment.
3. Mix 50% of the original soil removed from the hole with 50% compost. Use the mix to refill around the tree, firming it gently. Remove excess soil from the site, do not bank it up over the collar of the tree as this can cause rotting and be fatal.
4. Upwind of the tree, knock two stakes vertically into the ground at opposite sides of the rootball so they do not penetrate it. Once the stakes are firm, attach the crossbar to them using long nails. Place the rubber space block between the tree and crossbar to prevent rubbing. Secure the tree to the crossbar using the belting and short nails.
5. Container trees carry sufficient nutrients to last the season but growmore or similar fertiliser may be sprinkled around the base of the tree if required.
6. Once planted, give the tree a generous soaking of water by pouring it directly around the base of the tree. If you’re planting in spring or summer, continue to water well and regularly for the first couple of growing seasons. If you’re planting in autumn, you may only need to water a little until winter, then increase watering in spring/summer. Make sure to keep an eye on establishing trees and increase watering if there are extended periods of hot or dry weather.
To check if the soil requires further water, dig a finger down into the soil a few centimetres and if the soil feels even slightly moist, it does not need further watering. If it feels dry, water and repeat this test again. See individual product pages for species specific watering requirements.
7. Keep the area free of competing weeds, grass and other plants for the first couple of growing seasons.
8. The stakes should stay in place for approximately 3-5 years, after which time they can be removed.