Planting Trees

Trees sold in containers (pots and bags) can be planted at any time of year, with spring and autumn being preferential to high summer. Rootballs can only be planted from November to March. There are separate guides for information on planting mature trees or planting bare root trees.

Step By Step Guide On How To Plant A Containerised Or Rootballed Tree

To plant you will need a stake, buckle tie, compost, lump hammer and spade. Mycorrhizal fungi is also recommended.

1. Remove all weeds and grass within a metre of your desired planting hole, then dig a hole as deep as the pot/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, then sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi in the hole to aid establishment.

2. Remove the pot 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.

3. Mix the planting compost (or homemade compost), 50:50 with the soil removed from the hole and use the mix to refill around the tree, firming gently. Remove excess soil, do not bank the soil up over the collar or graft union of the tree as this can cause rotting and be fatal.

4. Place the stake upwind of the tree and at an angle to avoid penetrating the rootmass. Knock in until it is firm, ensuring the top of the stake stays adjacent to the tree. Tie the tree firmly to the stake using a tree tie. We advise using a buckle tie as this can be adjusted if required and has a spacer to avoid the stake chaffing the tree. For large staking kits, see our mature tree planting guide.

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. Unless it is winter and the tree is dormant, give the tree a generous soaking of water by pouring it directly at the base of the tree. If you’re planting in spring or summer, continue to water well and regularly for the first few months. If you’re planting in autumn, you may only need to water a little. Make sure to keep an eye on young plants 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 stake should stay in place for approximately 12-18 months, after which time it can be removed.

Video On Planting A Containerised Tree

Video - Planting potted trees

Diagram Of Tree Planted With Stake

Video On Planting A Rootballed Tree

Video - Planting rootballed trees

Video On Using A Tree Tie

Video - Using a tree tie