Preparing the hole
The hole needs to be as big as the rootball and should be quite a snug fit. This will help to keep the tree upright and make staking easier. When digging out the soil keep the top soil and sub soil separate as they need to be replaced in the same order when the hole is filled up again.
Loosen the soil at the bottom and sides of the hole and remove any large stones to make it easier for the tree to establish its roots.
Planting the tree
Our rootball trees are sold with a wire and hessian wrapped rootball and when planting out the wire and hessian must remain in situ as both of these materials are biodegradable and will rot away in due course. Please do not remove the wire or hessian which have been carefully wrapped around the rootball in order to protect the roots. If these materials are removed the rootball may break apart and the fine roots will be lost which can be detrimental to the survival of the tree.
Always be sure to handle the tree using the rootball and not the stem in order to prevent damage.
Staking smaller trees, larger trees & invisible staking
Staking trees after planting is important as it provides stability against the wind and allows the roots to grow. If there is too much movement some of the more delicate roots may be damaged and this can impede root growth.
Staking techniques vary depending on the size and weight of the tree and whether the stakes are to be visible or not, and these techniques are outlined below.
Secure the stakes to the tree with flexible, elasticated ties such as 3-inch wide nylon webbing straps. They need to be able to expand with the tree as the trunk grows and thickens. Remember to remove any straps or ties as soon as the tree is established, usually after the first season of growth, otherwise they can strangle the tree and risk harming or killing it.
Always place the stakes on the side of the prevailing wind to prevent the tree from being blown towards them.
One stake should suffice. To prevent damage to the bark place the stake at a 45 degree angle which will minimise contact between the stake and the bark. Ensure there is sufficient room for a spacer between the trunk and the stake to stop the bark from rubbing against the stake.
Erect two stakes, either side of the tree with a cross bar attached to each stake. Using a spacer, attach the tree to the cross bar and secure with elasticated ties.
Large trees on very exposed sites
Erect three stakes in a triangle around the tree. Secure with straps from each stake around the trunk of the tree.
This technique is more labour intensive but the end result is more pleasing to the eye as the stakes cannot be seen, and it is particularly useful in show gardens.
Erect three stakes in a triangle very close to the rootball and drive them deep into the undisturbed soil below the rootball . It is vital that the stakes are driven deep into the soil which lies below the level of the rootball as this soil has not been dug up and will therefore ensure the stakes remain secure when they are cut down.
Tie a strap in a triangle over the rootball from one stake to the other until the tree is completely secure. Now cut the stakes off at ground level and cover with soil.
Stakes should always be removed after the second year. Stakes are only there in order for the tree to establish itself in the ground and should be removed once there are sufficient roots to keep it upright. The straps and ties can be detrimental to the health of the tree if left on as they can become embedded in the bark, eventually ringbarking the tree and resulting in its death.
Watering, Drought Stress & Stake Removal
After planting make sure to water the tree properly so that all the air pockets are filled up with soil. It’s important to add enough water to soak the entire depth of the rootball, don’t just wet the top few inches of soil with a light sprinkling!
All trees require regular watering during the first year after planting until their roots become established, even if the weather is damp. The importance of this task cannot be overestimated. Never let the rootball dry out, and make regular checks even when there has been rain.
Some varieties whose roots are slow growing will require watering for the 3rd or 4th year after being planted out if there is a dry spell, so keep a vigilant eye out for signs of drought stress.
To help the water soak into the rootball and not run away into the surrounding soil, create a raised rim of soil around the stem to retain water. This should be slightly narrower than the rootball and roughly 20cm tall.
Drought Stress: how to spot the signs
While trees can survive short spells of drought, prolonged periods can make them susceptible to insects and diseases. Signs of stress are yellowing of the leaves and wilting of the soft new growth and spotting these signs early is vital to prevent deformed growth, and even death.