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How to plant a tree

Tree planting season is generally mid November to late March, when trees are dormant. Follow our guide to three of the most successful ways to plant.

When your trees arrive

Store the trees upright, sheltered from frost and wind. If the roots look like they’re drying out, lightly spray them with water to keep them moist.

Prepare your site

  • Before you start planting, mark out where each tree will be placed using stones, spray paint or canes
  • If your planting area is overgrown, cut the grass short and weed. This will make planting easier and reduce competition for water, helping your saplings to thrive.

How much space do the trees need?

We recommend trees are planted about 2 metres apart, but you can plant them 1-5 metres apart depending on your space and plan. Wavy lines look more natural than regimented rows of trees. If you’re planting a single hedge, place your trees 30cm apart. For a thick hedge, plant a double row of trees in a zig zag pattern. Space your rows 50cm apart, with 40-45cm between each tree.

Pit planting

We recommend pit planting because it’s more thorough and ensures your trees have better contact with the soil. It is suitable for all ground types, especially areas prone to drought, but it can be difficult if you have stony soil. 

  1. Use a spade to take some turf out of the ground, turn it over and chop into smaller pieces.
  2. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the roots of your tree. Loosen the soil around the edges. The turf you have cut up can be placed into the bottom of the pit to provide the tree with extra nutrients.
  3. Put the tree in the hole and check the depth. Look for the collar – the mark on the tree where it originally started to grow above the ground. This should be level with the top of the soil. If your tree is planted too deep, the stem may rot; too shallow and the roots above the ground will die.
  4. Hold your tree upright and gently push back the soil, pressing it down onto the roots. Don’t compact the soil as this will stop water and air circulation, but make sure your tree is secure.
  5. Now push the cane into the ground next to the tree, making sure it's stable.
  6. If using tree guards or spirals to protect your saplings, this is the stage to add these. Press the protection firmly into the soil.

Slit planting

This is a simple method that is suitable for bare soil and grass. It can be easier than pit planting if you’ve got stony soil.

  1. Press your spade all the way into the ground, then push it forwards to create a slit. Make sure it’s deep enough for the tree roots.
  2. Keep the slit open with your spade and place your tree inside with the root plug about 2cm below ground level.
  3. Remove the spade and push the soil back around the tree.
  4. To fit any tree protection, follow pit planting step 6. 

T-notch planting

T-notch planting is another quick method suitable for grass-covered ground but not bare soil. This method is an alternative to pit planting in areas susceptible to drought, but is not recommended for sites with clay soils.

  1. Push the spade fully into the ground.
  2. At a right angle to the first cut, repeat step 1 to create a T-shape.
  3. Take the spade to the original cut and lever it upwards, parting the turf.
  4. Place the tree carefully in between the sections of turf.
  5. Lever the spade back out and the turf will fall into place. Ensure all roots are taken into the hole.
  6. Adjust the tree to ensure it is at ground level, and thoroughly firm down soil around the tree.