How and when to plant your next tree

Select a tree that will fit the location; think about the horizontal and vertical space for the canopy and the roots. Trees give height and three-dimensional structure to your planting. They can also provide colour, background, privacy, shelter and shade. And if the tree is a fruit tree or other cropping tree you will benefit from its harvest.

When to plant?

Planting during winter ensures the tree has enough time to establish a good root system before the hot summer months. But with care and attention trees can be successfully planted at any time of year.

To plant your tree:

  • With your Atlas Trade spade, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball or the container it came in.

  • Check the drainage by filling the hole with water; if it does not drain within 12 hours plant somewhere else or improve the drainage. To encourage drainage, make a mound at the base of the hole and place the root ball on this.

  • Soak bare-rooted trees in water for about 30 minutes prior to planting. Give containerised plants a good water before taking them out of their pots or bags.

  • Remove the container or root bag and set the tree in the hole with the root collar (just above the roots) flush or slightly above the natural soil level.

  • Check the roots of the tree; if there are roots that have been restricted by the pot/bag and are circling around the root ball, these should be loosened or pruned off to encourage roots to grow straight and away from the tree. Circling roots can restrict other roots and make for an unstable tree.

  • Add generous amounts of compost to the hole and mix in well with soil and back-fill.

  • Firm the soil around the tree roots.

  • Stake the tree for extra support only if it’s tall or prone to flexing in high wind. Mulch with additional compost or crushed bark and water thoroughly to ensure the soil is in firm contact with the root system.

  • Protect the tree from animals; if necessary, use plant protectors or wire-mesh at least 1 m in diameter and 1.5 m tall to keep rabbits, deer and livestock from eating your tree bark.

  • Water the tree in dry conditions for the first two years until its root system has fully developed and is deep enough to tolerate droughts.