Planting trees for all of us

Planting trees is a wonderful thing to do. After all, they can look beautiful in all seasons. And can provide shade, shelter, habitat, food, compost, clean air, and ecosystems. And engender respect, peace, and even awe.

Did you know that there are about 600 species of oak? Or that the oldest living individual trees are thought to be about 5000 (five thousand) years old, one of which is a yew in a churchyard in north Wales? Or that the oldest living clonal tree colony is thought to be somewhere between 80,000 and 1,000,000 (one million) years old?

We can plant your tree in such a way that it has every chance of living a long, healthy life and in the process giving you and your loved ones a great deal of pleasure. Successful planting comes down to using high quality trees and good planting procedures, and planting the right tree in the right place.

Choosing the right tree

Apart from meeting your aesthetic requirements, the tree must also be suited to the conditions of the location, such as shade, space, and soil moisture content.

The whole tree should be in healthy condition, including the root ball. There should be an absence of wounds. It should have a good branching structure, without codominant stems or included bark, otherwise there may be maintenance and safety issues in the future.

It is important that you choose the right species of tree. There is a useful plant selector on the RHS website here, and a good tree finder on Barcham’s website here.

Digging the right hole

Most root growth happens near the surface. The hole should be at least twice as wide as the root ball at the surface, tapering down to the bottom of it. In compacted clay soils, digging a hole up to five times the width of the root ball will give the tree a good chance of successful establishment.

Depth is also important: too deep, and the roots might be stressed, drowned, or suffocated.

Backfill, stake, and mulch

With a stake hammered into the ground, the tree is placed in the hole. The hole is then backfilled with the same soil that came out of it mixed with compost, the tree tied to the stake for support in the early stages, a spiral rabbit guard placed around the trunk if appropriate and a weed membrane and mulch applied to the right depth around the tree to avoid water competition from weeds.

Caring for a planted tree

Appropriate watering

The most common reason why planted trees fail to establish is lack of water. But too much water is also a killer. Monitoring the soil moisture content and judicious watering is the answer. And ideally a one metre wide area around the tree should be kept free of weeds for two years by replenishing the mulch as necessary.

Respect for roots and trunk

A tree’s roots and trunk are vital for its health, and both need to breathe. For most species the active roots are located in the top twelve inches of soil, and usually spread out at least as far from the trunk as the spread of the branches, in some cases up to three times as far. So try to avoid digging in the ground anywhere beneath the branches so that the roots aren’t damaged.

For the roots to breathe the soil must be aerated. This means trying to avoid piling heavy loads on the ground that would compact the soil beneath the tree’s branches, for example by raising the ground level as part of a landscaping project; that would also stop the trunk from breathing. Soil compaction could kill a tree in just a few years.

If you’d like a quote for planting trees, please don’t hesitate to contact us.