If you have a garden, even a small urban plot, you will probably want to include trees in your planting scheme. Here are some of the basics of planting trees. |
The majority of landscape gardeners will try to include trees into any planting scheme. Trees add structure and one or more focal points. Trees of all sizes are available so there is no reason why your garden should miss out. Trees of all types are generally best planted in the autumn or spring. If they are deciduous, they are best planted when they are dormant.
The first thing to do, before buying your tree or trees is to do an analysis of the soil. Take a look at it to find out whether it is sandy, clay or loam. Check how quickly water drains through the soil and finally check the pH of the soil. This can be done quickly and easily by using either a chemical test kit or an electrical pH probe. Both types of test kits are available relatively cheaply. They are certainly much cheaper than buying the tree itself. Once you have an idea of what type of soil you have you can choose the appropriate tree or trees for your garden. It is no good buying a tree that needs well drained soil if yours is clay based.
Once you have decided on your tree(s) you need to decide on their position in the garden. You need to make sure there is enough space for the roots to spread. In some cases they can spread to 2/3 times the height of the tree. Although roots grow slowly, they are a powerful force. They can cause a lot of damage to walls of houses and boundary walls. The will dry out the soil around their base and cast shade, making it harder for anything other than shade loving plants to thrive.
When you buy a tree it will either be container grown, bare rooted or come with a ball of soil round the roots which is wrapped in either a natural cloth or a plastic based wrapping. The latter can be stored for a while after purchase but should really be planted as soon as possible. The soil root ball should be kept moist at all times. There are various recommendations for planting this type of tree; whatever you read, if the root ball wrapping is plastic, IT SHOULD BE COMPLETELY REMOVED and the tree should be handled only by the root ball. Container grown trees need similar treatment, i.e. keep the soil in the container moist and handle it by the pot. If you buy bare rooted trees, they should be planted as soon as possible after purchase. Ensure that the roots are moist and in good condition before you buy. Any broken or damaged roots can be lightly pruned to remove the damage as damaged areas can be a route in to the tree for any diseases.
Whichever you buy, the planting method is essentially the same. Dig a hole that is something like 3 times the width of the root area. Digging a hole that is too narrow will set back your tree and it may even lead to its death. As for depth, it should be about the same depth as the soil in which it was grown. For bare rooted trees, this is less easy to gauge.
If you are planting the container grown plant, once the hole is ready, carefully remove the container and tease out the roots so that they can spread out and anchor it. Place the base of the root ball in the bottom of the hole and check the level using a plank across the hole. You can then adjust the depth if necessary. Backfill the hole, lightly pressing the soil down with your hands around the root ball to ensure it is firmly in place. But resist tamping the soil down too hard as that will prevent water from penetrating to the roots. The same method applies to trees bought with a soil root ball wrapped in fabric.
Bare rooted plants need a different technique. Leave a cone of soil at the centre of the hole and drape the roots over the cone. Then you can back fill and firm the soil round the roots.
Over the coming months, there will be some settlement of the soil and/or the tree. Thus you may need to either remove some soil from around the base of the tree or top up the backfilled area.
Finally, a word of warning if you have a clay soil. When digging a hole, the edges can become very smooth and resistant to the passage of water. This is termed 'glazing' and it happens because the clay particles are compacted by the spade and polished as you slide the spade through the soil. To break up the glazed areas, work them with the points of a fork and even add some organic material to make the soil lighter. Another tip is to dig the hole slightly deeper around the outside of the hole, leaving the centre slightly raised where the tree roots will be placed. That will prevent groundwater from pooling underground at the roots - having waterlogged roots will very quickly kill most plants.
Save yourself the disappointment and expense of your newly planted tree dying - call in London Landscape Gardeners Graftingardeners to plant your trees - http://www.graftingardeners.co.uk.
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