We are often asked for our advice on the planting of advanced trees. Planting correctly is super important - just as important as buying quality - so the effort you put into preparing the hole and the soil conditions the tree will be planted into is paramount to success.
Generally there are a number of steps you should follow when planting a tree. These are outlined below and are applicable to most situations, whether you are a home gardener or professional landscaper.
The other consideration to think about is the application of a general purpose fertiliser at the time of planting.
Dig a wide, shallow hole twice the diameter of the pot with the depth to be about that of the tree's root ball. To allow good root penetration, rough up the sides and the bottom of the hole and remove any glazing on the side of the hole. This last point is very important for drainage and root penetration. Ensure adequate drainage. This can be as simple as running a trench away on the lower side or into the drain behind the gutter.
The root ball needs to be moist (not wet) prior to removing from the container. Gently tap the sides of the pot and carefully remove the tree from its container. Don’t pull and reef at the trunk. Matted roots on the bottom and sides of the root ball should be shaved off with a spade or knife. Doing this removes any chance of root girdling. At this time also remove any damaged roots and branches
Place the tree carefully in the middle of the hole. Check that the root ball surface is slightly above the surrounding ground surface. If it is low, remove the root ball and backfill the hole until it reaches the required planting height. We recommend adding an additive to the back fill soil. We suggest a mixture of wetting agent, fertiliser, water crystals and organic matter at a rate of 1lt per 100lt of hole. Speciality Trees has developed 'Complete Tree Starter' specifically for this purpose. We also recommend using the same soil for backfill that was dug from the hole
Use any excess backfill soil effectively to create a saucer around the tree which will ensure watering reaches the full diameter of the root ball. Fill this basin with water. Allow to drain and fill again. This ensures thorough watering of the tree as well as the consolidation of the backfill.
Spread organic mulch over the root ball, within the basin and over the mound to a depth of 75mm. Ensure that there is no contact between the mulch and the trunk as this can cause serious disease issues. We suggest using a premium mulch with the ability to break down over time.
If the tree is to be staked, two or three wooden stakes (3 is preferred) should be driven into the ground around the tree but outside the perimeter of the root ball. For tying, use soft flexible material such as jute webbing strips. The stakes should be removed after 6-9 months. Three stakes ensures the tree can move in the wind without restriction from any direction.
Irrigation is important after planting and for at least the first summer. If using drip irrigation make sure there are at least two drippers over the root ball. We suggest weaning the tree off water and not just stopping cold turkey so the tree learns to be self reliant.
It is recommended that the root ball be kept moist for the first summer season so that roots can re-establish. This is especially critical during summer. Keep water up by watering directly into the basin over the root ball rather than around the root ball. Take care as over watering is often a more serious problem than under watering.
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