If you haven’t already read my post on how to plant a shrub head over there now. Planting a tree isn’t much different it’s just that everything is a little bigger and more effort is needed. The planting instructions given here will apply for all trees whether they be fruit trees, deciduous or evergreen and even ornamental trees.


Step 1

Carefully remove the tree from the bag or container that it has been living in. If the tree has become rootbound (ie. the roots have coiled themselves around the outside of the soil) carefully tease them out from the ball and untangle from themselves. If the roots have become too matted you can cut away some of the root mass but without disturbing the other roots and still keeping the root ball intact.

Don’t try shaking the soil from the roots instead keep the rootball as compact as possible.

Carefully remove the tree from it’s container.

Carefully remove the tree from it’s container.

Step 2

Prepare a hole in the garden bed where you intend to plant your tree making it twice the width of the trees rootball dimensions. This will give you some room to play with when positioning the tree.

Apply some quick release organic fertiliser to the soil to encourage root growth and mix in. If you have heavy clay soils you may also want to add a handful of dolomite to aid in the breaking down of the clay and to give your roots and easier start in their new position.

Prepare the hole for your tree.

Prepare the hole for your tree.

Step 3

Now that the hole has been dug and the soil prepared it’s time to place your tree in position. I always like to size a tree up before planting it as each tree will have profiles that appear better viewed from certain directions. This may be due to previous pruning or even the natural growth of the tree. Find the “face” of the tree that you like the most and position it where most people will view it from.

Position the tree in the middle of the hole keeping the top of the rootball level with the height of the soil. If you need to stake the tree then it is best to do it now rather than after you’ve replaced all the soil. Staking it prior to replacing the soil ensures that you won’t accidentally stake the rootball and sever any important roots.

To stake it, drive a strong stake diagonally through the soil opposite the direction you intend to force. Do not drive the stake through the rootball.

Step 4

Half-fill the hole with water adding some water crystals or rotted organic matter to the hole if the soil begins to repel the water. The gradually backfill the soil into the hole carefully tapping the soil and gently shaking the trunk of the tree to remove any air bubbles.

Water the tree in.

Water the tree in.

Step 5

The final step in planting a tree is to create a well around the base of the tree and water. You can then cover this with sheets of newspaper, a generous dose of sheep manure and finally covering with some pea straw. This will ensure the tree is fed throughout the season while also suppressing any weeds trying to compete with your new tree.

Create a watering well around the base of the tree.

Create a watering well around the base of the tree.

When is the best time to plant a tree?

People often ask this question and the answer is anytime is a good time to plant a tree, however there are times that are better than others. Planting a tree in the middle of summer is probably not the best time but if you handle it well and ensure that it gets watered every day for the first week or two you shouldn’t have any problems with it.

Planting trees in the autumn or winter are usually the best times as this is when most trees shut down and require less care and nutrients for survival. However, it depends on what type of tree it is and whether the temperature of the soil will adversely affect the tree you intend to plant.

When is the best time to transplant a tree?

When they’re dormant. This is the end of autumn through to the end of winter. If you try to transplant a tree during the summer months you increase the chances that it may not survive.