Indigenous Nursery News Blog

How to Plant a Tree

How to plant a tree with the best results is surprisingly easy, but needs proper planning and preparation. The time and effort taken to plant your tree correctly will pay off handsomely when you have a beautiful, well-structured and healthy tree in your garden. 

A properly planted tree will grow faster, stronger and healthier.

How to plant a tree

Remember that the roots of all trees spread out horizontally and grow into the first 80 or 90cm of soil. This is because they need oxygen to feed and below this depth there is very little or no oxygen.

  • Dig a wide shallow saucer-shaped hole that is as deep as the height of the root ball of your tree (contrary to the old way of digging a huge square hole). It is especially necessary to dig the hole wide if the soil is compacted. The loosening of this soil will encourage horizontal growth of the roots. The roots can spread as much as twice the height of the tree.
  • Identify the trunk flare, which is the area where the trunk starts to flare and the root and stem bark meet. This area must be exposed to the air and not buried. Place the tree in the hole at the correct height with the trunk flare above the soil line. If planted too deeply the roots will suffocate and thus not grow well and the tree may even die, as it impedes its ability to move carbohydrates up and down from the canopy.
  • Never pick a tree up by the trunk but always by the root ball.
  • Straighten the tree in the hole - back fill to one third and tamp down. Gently scratch the root ball to loosen fine roots to encourage them to grow into the new soil. Then back fill the rest of the hole and tamp down.
  • If your tree does not stand upright stake it according to the diagram. Beware of tying anything around the tree that will damage the bark. A piece of hosepipe threaded with wire will do. Place the hosepipe covered wire around the tree and make a figure of eight around the stake.
  • Immediately after planting, mulch with wood-chips, leaf mould or compost in a large area around the tree. This layer of mulch should not be more that 10cm deep and should never rest against the stem of the tree.If you think it is necessary you can sprinkle with 5:1:5 or 2:3:2 slow release fertilizer before you cover with the mulch.
  • Keep the soil moist but not soaked. This may mean watering once or twice a week until the tree is settled well in its new home. Perhaps for the first two weeks to a month, depending on weather and environmental conditions. 

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