It’s important to make sure the tree you’re selecting will be the right size for your position. The tree label will give you an expected average height and width, often with a small diagram.
Make sure that the tree’s overall form will work for you too. If your yard is small, you may want something with a more upright shape, rather than a spreading crown that may eventually shade too much of your yard. Conduct research beyond the label. We have many fact sheets about trees on our website, and they have all been written for local conditions.
Each tree you look at will have particular requirements—preferred soil, sun or shade, water and feeding. You need to know a little about the spot you plan to plant into. What type of soil is it? Does it naturally receive a lot of water, either through high rainfall or runoff? Is it shady or exposed to winds? Knowing this information can give you a mental checklist as you browse through the tree range.
Usually, the best time to plant a tree is during the dormant season, in autumn, after the leaves have fallen. This will allow your tree to adapt to the climate before the heat of summer. It is also easier to dig, as the soil is usually more moist at this time of the year.
Here's a few steps to get you planting today!
Remove any grass or competing plants and dig a planting hole at least twice as wide and slightly deeper than the pot size. If planting in a lawn, you may wish to clear grass to about twice the width again of your planting hole.
If you have heavy clay soil, create a planting mound using imported soil instead.
Blend a quality compost, well-composted manure or planting additive and fertiliser through with the soil you've removed from the hole. How much you add will depend on your soil type (more for sandy soil, less for heavy soil types), the requirements of your tree (you should find guidelines that relate to additional organic matter on the label), and your local climate and the season (too much organic matter heading into wet times can cause soil problems).
Still in its container, position the tree in the hole. The top of the potting mix in the tree’s container should be at the same height as the surrounding soil. Adjust the hole depth as required.
Gently remove your tree from its container and support it with one hand while you backfill around the root ball. Gently press the soil down to remove any air pockets, but don’t over compress it.
Spread controlled-release fertiliser around the planting area. Create a small dam wall around the edge of the planting area. This serves as a watering dish while your tree settles in.
Add stakes. Make sure you drive them in firmly and straight, and ensure they are outside the root ball to avoid root damage. If using two stakes, position them evenly on opposite sides. If using three, place them in an even triangle shape.
Attach tree-ties to stakes at around two-thirds of the tree height. The ties should always allow the tree to move a little with the breeze, but should not be so loose that the root ball rocks in the soil.
Never tie a tree tightly, and never use just one stake. Don’t leave the label wrapped around your tree’s trunk. Remove it and attach to one of the stakes instead, so you don’t forget what variety the tree is.
Water your tree well, then apply a layer of mulch at least 40mm thick and keep it at least 50mm clear of the trunk. Water again to settle the mulch down, and you’re done!
Follow these steps to keep your tree healthy and happy
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