Planting a garden tree is easier than you might think. Still, it’s important to know how to go about it and how to keep your tree healthy as it grows.
1. Begin by digging a hole for your tree to be placed in. Ideally, the size of the hole should be two to three times the width of the root ball—which is the roots of the tree and the dirt covering them—and the same depth as the root ball.
A wider hole will help the tree grow, as the soil that is returned around the root ball of the tree will be looser than the earth around it and will give the roots space to shift around and grow. When digging the hole, it is a good idea to put the dirt in a wheelbarrow so it is easily accessible later.
2. Prepare the tree. If it’s in a pot, remove the pot. In the case of a tree with a bag, cut the twine holding the bag together and either remove it or push it to the base of the rootball. Position it in the hole you’ve dug in the direction you want it to face.
3. Fill in the hole. Start refilling the hole with the dirt you removed from it. Pack it down lightly as you do so to remove any trapped air, but don’t push too hard. Air pockets are not healthy for growing roots, but soil that is packed in too hard will stop them growing well too.
Use the leftover soil to make a small mound around the tree with the tree centered in a shallow well. The well will help funnel water towards the tree.
4. Stake the tree. If the tree is small or needs additional support, drive a stake into the ground parallel to the tree, but not in direct contact with it. Make sure you drive the stake through root ball and into the ground below for stability.
Larger trees may require three stakes in a triangle around the trunk. Tie the stake to the tree with twine or other suitable ties. Do not tie the tree too tightly as this can cause damage to the trunk, leading to health issues or deformity in the tree as it grows.
5. Water the tree. Ensure that the tree is watered as soon as possible. Continue watering it daily for at least two weeks, after which you can slowly water the tree less until it fits in with your regular watering schedule. You will not need to fertilise the tree for about one year after planting, as the large influx of nutrients can sometimes stress a new tree.
A layer mulch around the base of the tree can keep weeds away and water in, and can provide a small amount of additional supplement. Try not to put the mulch directly against the tree trunk as this can create an ideal environment for fungi and bacteria to grow.
If you follow the above directions, your new tree(s) will grow healthy and strong.