From a garden design point of view, there are so many reasons to plant a tree in your garden. As well as adding height, structure and scale to your garden, trees also provide year-round interest, not to mention a habitat for wildlife and privacy from your neighbours’ gardens. So if you’ve made a start or are about to start planting, here’s a quick run through of the main tree-care points to remember so that you can give your trees the best possible start and enjoy them for years to come.
- The traditional time for planting bare-root trees is November to March. Within this period, the best time to plant a tree is when the ground is moist and free from frost.
- Planting during this period gives the tree roots the moisture they need to establish, before the weather heats up. Also energy at this time is directed to the roots rather than to leaf and bud formation.
- Having said this, containerised trees can be planted at any time of year. If they are planted when it is warmer, they will need more watering to help them establish.
- Most trees will need to be staked. The reason for this is to prevent wind rock and movement of the roots. Movement can damage new roots, which will slow down establishment. A new tree will take about two years to anchor firmly into the soil.
- Smaller trees only require one stake girth positioned on the windward side of the tree. A single stake is usually driven in at an angle so the stem can be fixed against the stake with rubber strapping to prevent abrasion of the stem.
- Larger trees should get two stakes, with the tree pulled taut between the two stakes using rubber ties. Alternatively, the tree can be fixed to a crossbar between the two stakes using a rubber block to prevent rubbing.
- If weeds are left to establish in the rooting zone of young trees, they will compete for water and nutrients. New trees need a good supply of both of these in order to grow well, so it’s important to keep the ground around the base of the tree weed free.
- Maintain a 1 metre diameter weed free spot around the tree. If you like, bark mulch can be put down, which will help prevent weeds from establishing.
- It is essential that once planted, your tree is watered regularly. You should start watering early in the year as the weather becomes drier and the tree comes into leaf and you should continue until the leaves fall in the autumn.
- Newly planted trees should be watered at least 2-3 times a week in the summer time, with at least a full watering can of water.