How to Plant a Tree

Learn how to plant a tree and add its benefits to your garden with a simple, step-by-step planting guide.

How to Grow Practically Everything

“How to Grow Practically Everything” employs a user-friendly "recipe" formula free from intimidating jargon, covers different areas and types of gardens — from patios and terraces to beds and borders — and explores all the gardening basics, from identifying your soil to planting tips and pruning.

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Packed with hundreds of gardening projects, from planting herbs in pots to creating a vegetable garden to feed the family, How to Grow Practically Everything (DK, 2010) gives complete beginners the confidence and know-how to grow almost anything. Each project is a complete package, with step-by-step photographic details and sumptuous end shots to ensure great results. In this excerpt, find the simple, but effective, step-by-step guide to planting a tree to provide a great garden feature. Click on the image gallery for step-by-step photos. 

You can buy this book from the GRIT store: How to Grow Practically Everything.  

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An investment in time and money, a tree will eventually become a striking presence in your garden and make a beautiful year-round feature. Plant it well and take care of it afterwards and your tree will soon pay dividends, providing you with color, shade and structure for many years to come.

When to start: Late autumn

At its best: All year round

Time to complete: 2 hours

You will need: Tree, spade, fork, cane, stake, tree tie, mulch, and gardening gloves

1. Prepare the ground

Dig a circular hole twice the width and the same depth as the root ball. Do not dig over the base, as this may cause the tree to sink once planted. Instead, puncture the base and sides with a garden fork to allow roots to penetrate.

2. Check planting depth

Most trees are planted with their root ball slightly above the soil surface, which helps them to establish a strong root system. Place the tree in the hole, lay a cane across the top to check the level, and add or remove soil as required.

3. Tease out roots

Lift the tree from the hole and use your fingers to gently tease the outer roots away from the root ball. This will encourage them to root in the surrounding soil, helping the tree to establish, and is particularly important if the tree is “root-bound.”

4. Plant the tree

Place the tree in the hole and turn it round until its best side is facing the right direction. Then fill around the root ball with the excavated soil. Do this in three stages: add soil and gently firm it down with your foot each time to remove any air pockets around the roots.

5. Gently firm in

Make sure the root ball is just above the soil surface. As a guide, look for the “nursery line”, where the trunk darkens at the base, showing the level the tree was grown at in the nursery. This must not be buried. Then add a thin layer of soil over the root ball so that no roots are exposed.

6. Attach tree to wooden stake

Choose a stake that will reach a third of the way up the trunk. Use a mallet to hammer it into the ground at an angle of about 45 degrees, with the top facing the prevailing wind. Attach a tree tie at the point where tree and stake meet, using a spacer to prevent them rubbing together.

7. Tree aftercare

Water the tree well, and then apply a thick mulch, such as composted bark chippings, to suppress competing weeds and seal in moisture. Keep it clear of the stem. Water the tree regularly for two years, and check and loosen ties frequently. The ties can be removed after two or three years when the tree has fully established.

This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from How to Grow Practically Everything by Zia Allaway and Lia Leendertz and published by DK, 2010. Buy this book from our store: How to Grow Practically Everything.