I would love to have lots of trees, in fact I hanker after a small woodland, just three or four acres would do me nicely. Somewhere to swan around, day-dream, cook sausages and boil a kettle over a little stove. Though the reality would probably be quite different, woods need looking after, so there probably wouldn’t be much time for day-dreaming.
Meanwhile I’ll happily make do with the three trees in my small garden, we’re surrounded by woodland, then there’s the allotment with five fruit trees, a hazel tree and an elder tree, so I don’t feel too tree impoverished.
If you need more trees in your life, here’s a simple guide to planting:
November to March is officially tree planting time, but November is the perfect time when it’s usually damp, not at all hot and the soil is still warm and welcoming for the young roots of trees.
- Your chosen tree, in a pot or bare-rooted
- Soil improver, e.g. compost, home-made is best but bought will do
- A tree stake
- A soft rubber tree-tie
How to plant:
You could just dig a hole and plonk the tree in, but all that investment of time and money would go to waste.
At college we were shown how to plant a tree and it went into a nice, round hole and was fastened to a tall, upright stake. This was a few years ago but it’s apparently better for the tree to be planted in a square hole and have an angled stake.
- Dig that square hole a bit wider and deeper than the size of the pot, or the root-ball if you’ve bought a bare-root plant.
- Stick a fork into the base of the planting hole and wiggle it about to break up the surface. This is especially good to do if your soil is mostly clay. Clay soil isn’t very crumbly and easily forms a smooth surface that’s harder for roots to break into.
- Add compost to the base of the planting hole if your soil is light and sandy, and add a layer of grit to heavy clay soil. There’s no need to add any compost if your soil is crumbly and rich.
- Half-fill the hole, firming the soil gently as you go and give the tree a little shake to help the soil get in-between the roots.
- Continue adding soil so that the tree is planted at the same level that it was in the pot, the difference in the colour on the stem shows you exactly where it was under the soil.
- Bang the tree-stake in at a 40 degree angle (avoiding the roots) and tie the tree to the stake with the tree tie, making a figure of eight so that the tree won’t rub against the stake.
There won’t be any sign of growth during the winter, but deep down in the ground, roots will be slowly developing and by next spring it will have a bigger root system and cope much better with the warm, dry weather.
- Water the tree in early spring and through the summer if there hasn’t been any rain, or just light rain, for 5-7 days. A good drenching every week rather than a small amount every 2-3 days is ideal.
- Check the stake a couple of times a year and loosen the tie as the tree grows.
- Remove tree stake once the tree feels firmly anchored in the ground, this will probably be after 2-3 years.
There’s an earlier post here about the best trees for small gardens.