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|Give trees and shrubs the best start in life
There’s something immensely satisfying about planting a tree and watching it grow through the years. Planting trees and shrubs isn’t difficult, but it’s important you get it right. Give trees the best start by following these basic steps.
|Plant trees between autumn and spring
The tree-planting season is between autumn and spring (October-April), when the soil is moist and tree roots are dormant. Avoid planting into waterlogged soil or frozen ground that is too hard to get your spade into. Container-grown trees can be planted out all year long, but they will need more watering in spring and summer. Sticking to October-April planting will make life easier for you and your garden trees.
|Plant bare-root roses as soon as you can
Plant your tree or shrub as soon as possible. Planting bare-root trees and shrubs (such as bare-root rose plants) should be carried out quickly to prevent dehydration of the roots - although the plastic packaging around your new tree’s roots will keep them alive for a short period (a few weeks, tops). Keep bare-root trees and shrubs somewhere cool, but frost free, until planting.
If planting is heavily delayed it may be best to 'heel-in' your plants. Dig a temporary trench in ordinary garden soil. Cover the roots with soil, firm in and water well. Heeling-in will keep your plants alive until you’re ready to plant them in their final position. Provided your tree or shrub is hardy they can safely remain heeled-in outside for up to 3 months.
Container grown trees or shrubs can be placed somewhere sheltered in the garden until you’re ready to plant them.
|Plant fruit trees in a sunny, well-drained spot
It's vital to give your trees or shrubs the best growing conditions possible. This is especially important when planting fruit trees, which do best in a sunny plot. All trees prefer a well-drained site, but if you have heavy clay soil, adding some organic matter - such as compost or well rotted manure - along with grit, will improve drainage.
Think about where you will plant the tree in relation to your house. Some roots and branches may spread beyond the boundaries of your property, and trees can sometimes cause structural damage and block drains. Be aware of places where limbs may fall or roots might grow. Also consider the height of any overhead cables.
|Dig a hole no deeper than the height of the root ball
|Carefully backfill around the roots, firming in as you go
|Protect young trees by staking them out
Image: Featured product: Tree stake and tie pack from Van Meuwen
|Keep newly planted trees well watered
Image: Numpon Junroonsiri
Newly planted trees and shrubs can often suffer from drought stress. Dry, windy weather will cause water loss and, even if the summer has been cool and damp, rainfall might not reach the soil at the roots. Weekly watering in the dry months will ensure your tree doesn’t get too thirsty. The surest way to check moisture levels is to carefully dig down past the root ball with a trowel and feel the soil with your hands.
Any weeds growing around your new tree or shrub will rob it of vital nutrients and water. That’s why it’s important that, for the first three years after planting, you keep the area around your tree or shrub weed-free.
Follow these steps and your tree or shrub will be happy and healthy for many years to come.
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