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Planting Shrubs & Trees

Planting Shrubs & Trees

Site preparation

Eliminate weeds and loosen the soil to improve drainage and compaction. Dig a hole to a depth to allow planting at the same level as the nursery line and up to 3 times the diameter. Break up the soil with a fork at the bottom and sides of the hole before planting. Remove any debris, stones or clods of earth etc. Improve fertility by incorporating organic matter and a suitable fertiliser into the soil. If waterlogged over winter consider plating on a slight mound as excess moisture can kill finer roots and cause disease and root rot.

Guide to planting

Remove plants from the container tease out and carefully spread the roots. Soak thoroughly in a bucket of water prior to planting. Place in the planting hole and then fill the hole carefully placing the improved soil all around the roots firming up as you go eliminating any air pockets. If possible apply a layer of mulch of bark, well rotted manure or compost around the base of the plant leaving a collar around the trunk to prevent the bark from rotting.

Watering and Aftercare

Water well and regular for the first growing season. Drought stress is common with newly planted trees and shrubs. Even in a cool damp summer the rain rarely replenishes the soil moisture fully. The soil may be dry around the roots even when the surface appears moist. Windy conditions are especially likely to lead to water shortages with dull lifeless foliage an indication or drought stress. Irrigate regularly to prevent damage. Keep the diameter around the plant free from weeds as they will intercept the water before it has chance to get to the planted roots.

Common Problems

Planting too deep is a common cause of tree death. Take care to plant at the same depth that it was growing in the nursery pot.

Poor establishment can occur if there is unfavourable weather, poor soil conditions and aftercare with leaves turning yellow or brown.

Wind rock of unsecured trees and large shrubs will damage roots and leave a space for rain water to collect leading to fatal root rotting. Always stake large plants to avoid this happening.

Insufficient water in the first year after planting is the main cause of poor establishment.

Excessive water in poorly drained waterlogged soil is just as likely to cause damage.

Larger specimens require greater aftercare with special attention paid to watering and can take two or three seasons to fully establish.


If your new tree needs staking, you must remove the nursery stakes, and find two or three stakes (wooden or metal). Place your hand on the trunk and see where it needs to be steadied. Use a soft material, like canvas strapping or tree staking straps, to attach the stakes.

For most trees the stake should be one-third of the height of the tree. This anchors the roots and allows the stem to sway and thicken .For tress with long or flexible stems use long, vertical stakes, cutting it lower in the second year.

There should be a gap of 2.5-3cm (about an inch) between the stem and the stake.

Stakes should be inserted on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree is blown away from the stake

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