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How to Plant a Tree or Shrub. 

Site editor David Hughes has a huge tree and shrub planting project, to carry out in spring 2007. He takes us through the elementary task of planting a tree or shrub. Do it right and you should have a 100% success rate. Plant your tree or shrub wrongly, and you are heading for disaster!

Whatever the size of tree or shrub, there is a basic routine to follow to ensure success. Your tree or shrub planting will be  a success, or a failure depending upon some very basic little things.

One of the most important things to ensure success with your tree planting, is to make sure that the tree is planted at the depth that it is already being grown in the container - or up to the soil mark on the stem if an open ground grown tree.

Smug or What!

All of the tree plating images can be clicked for enlargement detail.

The planting hole should be a little larger than the rootball of the tree. This will enable you to get compost around the rootball without any air pockets. The entire root surface are will then be in contact with the soil. VERY important

Important to ensure that the bottom of hole is flat. If the rootball sits on a hump, then the will be air pockets underneath, and no root contact with the soil

Carefully take the tree or shrub out of the pot or in this case the plastic bag wrap.

A good firm rootball - without the soil breaking away, is sign of well grown tree.

Once the tree is in the hole, it can be settled down. gentle pressure from a size 10 boot is fine! But, don't break the rootball open.

Here you will see the gap between the rootball and surrounding soil. This enables fine soil or planting compost to be forced down to ensure 100% contact between rootball and soil.

It will be a good idea to add some water retentive crystals and apply a long last fertilizer such as Osmocote at this point. The water crystals will 'absorb' excess water from the surrounding soil and the tree roots can take advantage of this in dry spells. The Osmocote will keep the tree growing well in the first year.


Choose a good stout treated stake - bear in mind that it is going to be driven about 60cm (2ft) into the ground

Now for the fun bit! The tree stake has to be driven into the ground. You can use a sledge hammer with care, or a post driver - with even more care. Much better than going to the Gym!

Tree stake well on the way down to where it will actually be firm enough to hold the tree in position.

Use a rubber, expandable, tree tie. Do not use a bit of wire or rope, otherwise as the trunk expands it will be damaged by the wire or rope - which does not expand!

You will need to gat the hang of these tree ties. Just remember that the spacer goes between the tree and the stake!"

Job more or less done. Finger nails still intact.

Ease fine soil, or general purpose potting compost down into the planting hole. Be firm - but gentle, and make sure that there are no gaps.

The finished job which should ensure that you have success with your tree.

Well done. Take a break, then plant another tree!!

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