Planting a Tree

1. Select the most suitable position for the tree before planting.

2. If the roots seem dry, immerse the whole container in water. Leave for 5 minutes or so, until the air bubbles stop rising to the surface. Then allow to drain.

3. Prune the crown of the tree. Remove any dead-wood and nabbing or crossing branches. Establishment is helped if the whole head of branches is reduced by tipping back each stern by one or two buds.

4. Dig the planting hole. It should be at least twice the size of the plant's container. Separate the topsoil from the subsoil. Discard any large stones, rubbish or poor subsoil. Use a fork to break up the sides and bottom of the hole, especially in heavy clay soils, where smeared sides can affect root growth.

5. Mix fertilizer and organic matter into the pile of topsoil.
Use a proprietary tree and shrub planting compost, or peat plus a handful of bonemeal or similar fertilizer. Any turves that were lifted can be sliced up and also incorporated.

6. Place a little of this mixture into the bottom of the hole so that the level of compost in the container will be level with the surrounding soil at the end of the operation.

7. Drive a stake in the hole and firm into position with sledge-hammer or similar. The stake should be just off
Centre and in the most discreet position (e.g. To the back of the border, or away from the house or other viewing point) or on the windward side of the tree. Make sure the top of the stake cannot rub on any branches, and also make sure that it is vertical.

8. Remove the tree from its container. 'Loosen' up the root-ball with your fingers. This 'teasing-out' of the roots is very important, as it prevents fatal root-girdling of the stem and speeds up establishment. You can be rougher in the dorment season than the summer when the tree is relying on an unbroken root system for its' water supply. If the tree has only recently been containerised, this operation isn't necessary.

9. 'Marry' the tree up to the stake. The trees 'best-side' should be prominent. The stem should be as near to and as parallel to the stake as possible, even if it means cutting away some of the rootball to do so.

10. Loosely tie the tree to the stake with tree ties (1 or 2).
The top tie should be 2" below the top of the stake. The other one should be 12-24" from the ground.

11. Backfill around the roots with the soil/compost mixture. Backfill in layers, firming well with your heel. Do not be afraid to ram the soil down hard. Pile the soil up a little above surface level to allow for settlement, but not against the stem.

12. Saw the top of the stake off, just below the lowest branch. The stake must not encroach on the crown of the tree. Slope the cut away from the tree, this ensures run-off. In sheltered sites the stake need only be short. Remember a stake's main function is to support the base of the tree's stem to reduce movement while the plant is getting established.

13. Tighten up the tree-ties. Tie the buckle on the stake with the spacer tightly held between the tree and the stake.

14. Apply a mulch around the base of the tree. Use peat or forest bark, to smother weeds which are competition for light, water, food and soil space. A mulch also reduces water loss in summer and offers some insulation in the winter. The mulch should look like a giant polo! That is with a hole in the middle so the mulch is clear of the stem.

After care:
Water on very hot dry days, especially in the first year.
Check stake and ties, slacken off if too tight, re-position if tree's bark is worn through rubbing. If tree is stable (after first or second growing season) remove the stake. Watch for pests and diseases - seek advice if the tree appears to be badly infected. Apply a granular fertilizer around the base of the tree in the second spring. Re-apply mulch, and remove weeds, when and if necessary.