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How to prepare, plant & look after your new trees

Tree planting

All of our trees are grown in pots so they can be planted at any time during the year, however taking time to prepare the site for your new tree/s and following these steps will help ensure their on-going health and success.

 

The hole

The hole for your tree needs to be twice the diameter of the tree root ball which can be determined by the pot size of the tree you have purchased.

The hole should also be as deep as the root ball of your tree which will be the same as the height of the pot size less 2-3 inches.  It is super important that the graft of a tree is not buried under the surface ( if grafted ).

As you dig the hole keep the top layers of top soil, these will be richer in nutrients and are best to use for back filling. 

Improve the soil used to back fill 

Improving the soil structure and ensuring aeration of the soil used to back fill around your tree will help to give your tree the best start to life in its new garden.

Poor soil such as clay, buckshot or compacted grey loam will cause water to run away from your tree instead of soaking into the roof area. Hydrophobic soil can be improved by mixing a generous amount of 2nd or 3rd cut lucerne hay ( the woody part of the plant ) and a wonderful product called Perma-Fert. These 2 additions will reduce hydrophobia, add nitrogen and oxygen to your soil and aid in water penetration. ( Available at our nursery )

If you are planting into heavy clay soil it is also a good idea to distribute plenty of gypsum and dolomite in and around the hole, then water in. This makes your soil more root friendly!

Drainage

Soil drainage and aeration are critical to achieving the ongoing health of the roots of your tree. To test the drainage fill your hole with water and leave it for about an hour. If the water has completely disappeared the drainage is good, halfway disappeared the drainage is fair but if the water has fallen less than 25mm drainage is poor and will need to be improved. Planting your tree on a raised mound may be required in notoriously wet areas to help keep the root ball out of the ground water. Installation of sub surface agi drain pipe and gravel may also be used help to drain water away from your tree.

Preparing the hole

The hole should be jagged and rough - it should never be round as this will make roots grow in a circle and eventually strangle the tree.

Planting the tree

Before planting your tree you will need to water it thoroughly – do this a couple of hours before planting, this ensures the rootball is moist but not dripping when it goes into the ground. 

Once you have removed the tree from the container always hold the tree by the rootball as well as taking the weight of the trunk to avoid damaging the tree.

It is also advisable to give your tree a light root-prune before planting. This ensures that any circling roots are cut off, thereby allowing an outward movement of root growth after your tree is planted. If there are no circling roots this need not be done at all. To root-prune you will need either a sharp spade or an old serrated breadknife (no longer used in the kitchen!). Cut approx 1-2 inches off the volume of the rootball all the way round the sides and across the bottom.

 

Refilling

Once the tree is in position in the centre of the hole refill with the back fill soil.

Fill the hole three-quarters full, firm the soil and then add water. When the water drains finish filling the hole. Build a 5cm saucer around the edge of the rootball, water again and fill the saucer with mulch. Do not pile mulch against the trunk as this can cause collar rot, keep it an inch or two away.

Staking

Where wind can be a problem it is a good idea to stake the tree to prevent excessive swaying which would disturb the new roots and hinder normal development.

Use two or three 1.5 metre 38mm square stakes, driven into the ground 500mm deep. Be careful to go outside the rootball and not into it. Tie 50mm jute webbing around the trunk and staple both ends to the stake. It is important not to use a rope or tie that will stop the tree moving around or strangle the tree as it grows. ( stakes and tie jute are available at our nursery )

Feeding your tree

We also advise sprinkling a good handful or two (quantity depends on size of tree planted) of slow release general purpose fertilizer pallets ( available at our nursery ) around the base of the tree ( not touching the truck ), prior to mulching around the tree. This should be repeated every 12 months or more for some varieties.

Soil

Once your tree is planted you can start to enjoy its true beauty but remember that on-going care will ensure your new tree thrives and remains in good health.

Water

For the first 12 months your tree should not be drying out. Long soaks once-to twice a week are better than a quick sprinkle every day. When watering you need to be soaking the whole volume of the rootball and some surrounding soil. Frequency varies due to differing soil types, for example a heavy soil will not dry out as quickly as a sandy soil. If you are unsure do a ‘poke test’. Poke a finger into the soil at the base of the tree and determine if you can feel moisture 3-5cm down. If you can’t then it needs water. If you can then you can wait another day before you give it a drink.

However, you should remember that there is such a thing as too much love and that also relates to water. Take care not to overwater your tree using the ‘poke test’.

Watch

Keep an eye on the appearance of your tree. The leaves will tell you if the tree needs more to drink, or is getting too much water.

The leaves on a tree suffering stress from lack of water will initially start to lose their lustre. They will then start to curl up and go brown. A tree suffering from too much water will show some yellowing of the leaves and they will also show signs of drooping. These two opposing problems are sometimes hard to distinguish so once again do the ‘poke test’.

Don’t despair if you do see signs of stress. It doesn’t automatically mean you will lose your tree. If you take action early enough there is a good chance your tree can recover. If underwatering is the problem give your tree a good soak for a couple of days and then revert to a watering regime that keeps the rootball moist but not sodden.

It is important to note that no matter the season, the size of the tree or the care that you take, many trees will suffer an element of ‘transplant shock’ after being planted. This might mean the tree starts to look a bit sick or even lose all its foliage but it isn’t necessarily a sign the tree is dying. Maintain your watering and keep an eye out for green shoots which will be the first sign your tree is recovering. An application of seasol can be used as a root tonic (follow directions on bottle for stressed/transplant trees).

 

Feeding your tree

We also advise sprinkling a good handful or two (quantity depends on size of tree planted) of slow release general purpose fertilizer pallets ( available at our nursery ) around the base of the tree ( not touching the truck ), prior to mulching around the tree. This should be repeated every 12 months or more for some varieties.

How to care for your new tree

Watering
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