Tree and Shrub Planting Schemes

Planting new trees and shrubs is not a difficult job, but one you need to get right, if you want your new plants to have the best start in life, ask the experts at Tyla to help and advise. We offer advice from design inception, choosing the best tree/shrub for the location, planting techniques and maintenance requirements.

The most important considerations are root health, location, local weather, soil conditions and aftercare.

Site preparation – Trees will not grow where soil contains too little air, insufficient nutrients or where soil moisture is either excessive or insufficient. Pre-planting soil preparation should aim to improve these conditions:

Loosen the soil generally to eliminate compaction and improve drainage
Improve background fertility by incorporating fertiliser and organic matter
Improving the soil for a wide area (2-3m (6½-10ft) around the tree) is best practice

If soils are waterlogged over winter consider installing drainage, or an alternative is to plant on a slight mound, about 25-30cm (10in-1ft) high and 1m (39in) in diameter. Excess moisture can kill the finer roots, which become blackened and sour smelling. Wet roots are more susceptible to disease, especially Phytophthora root rot

Planting – Remove plants from containers or fabric wrapping (some specimen trees specify that the wrapping be left on under the terms of their guarantee, but normally fabric wrappings should be taken off). Tease out and spread the roots to get an idea of their spread. Dig a planting hole that is no deeper than the roots, but is up to three times the diameter of the root system
If the sides or base of the planting hole are compacted, break the soil up with a fork before planting
With container grown plants, the top layers of compost should be scraped away, and the point where the roots flare out should be near the soil surface
Place the plant in the planting hole, insert a stake if required. Small trees do not require staking but top-heavy or larger specimens should be staked
Refill the planting hole carefully, placing soil between and around all the roots to eliminate air pockets
There is little evidence that adding extra fertiliser and organic matter to the planting hole helps; in fact this practice can hinder plant establishment as the organic matter decomposes and may cause the plant to sink. There is also less incentive for the roots to grow out into the surrounding soil
Firm the soil gently, avoiding compacting the soil into a hard mass

Aftercare – Watering. Drought stress is common with newly planted trees and shrubs. Even in a cool, wet summer, the rain rarely replenishes soil moisture stores fully. The soil may be dry around the roots even when the surface appears moist. Dry, windy conditions are especially likely to lead to water shortages. With experience, it is possible to detect the dull, lifeless foliage indicative of drought stress but by then the tree has already been damaged. Ideally anticipate water loss, and irrigate to prevent damage. Watering aids can assist watering of newly planted trees such as irrigation tubes (biodegradable tree irrigation pipe made from potato starch is available) or watering bags.

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