When your trees arrive

Store the trees upright, sheltered from frost and wind. If the roots look like they’re drying out, lightly spray them with water to keep them moist.

 

Prepare your site

  • Before you start planting, mark out where each tree will be placed using stones, spray paint or canes
  • If your planting area is overgrown, cut the grass short and weed. This will make planting easier and reduce competition for water, helping your saplings to thrive.

 

How much space do the trees need?

We recommend trees are planted about 2 metres apart, but you can plant them 1-5 metres apart depending on your space and plan. Wavy lines look more natural than regimented rows of trees. If you’re planting a single hedge, place your trees 30cm apart. For a thick hedge, plant a double row of trees in a zig zag pattern. Space your rows 50cm apart, with 40-45cm between each tree.

Pit planting

We recommend pit planting because it’s more thorough and ensures your trees have better contact with the soil. It is suitable for all ground types, especially areas prone to drought, but it can be difficult if you have stony soil. 

Small pile of soil on a grassy surface with a spade

Step 1

Use a spade to take some turf out of the ground, turn it over and chop into smaller pieces

Small piece of turf is held above a hole in the ground. Someone is holding a sapling in the hole to check it's big enough for the roots

Step 2

Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the roots of your tree. Loosen the soil around the edges. The turf you have cut up can be placed into the bottom of the pit to provide the tree with extra nutrients.

Inserting sapling into the hole to check depth

Step 3

Put the tree in the hole and check the depth. Look for the collar – the mark on the tree where it originally started to grow above the ground. This should be level with the top of the soil. If your tree is planted too deep, the stem may rot; too shallow and the roots above the ground will die.

A hand presses soil into the hole around the planted sapling

Step 4

Hold your tree upright and gently push back the soil, pressing it down onto the roots. Don’t compact the soil as this will stop water and air circulation, but make sure your tree is secure.

Someone pushing a cane into the soil alongside a planted sapling

Step 5

Now push the cane into the ground next to the tree, making sure it's stable.

Someone pushing a tree guard into the soil over the top of the sapling and cane

Step 6

If using tree guards or spirals to protect your saplings, this is the stage to add these. Press the protection firmly into the soil.

Slit planting

This is a simple method that is suitable for bare soil and grass. It can be easier than pit planting if you’ve got stony soil.

Spade inserted into a slit in the ground

Step 1

Press your spade all the way into the ground, then push it forwards to create a slit. Make sure it’s deep enough for the tree roots.

Spade is widening a slit in the ground as a sapling is being inserted behind it

Step 2

Keep the slit open with your spade and place your tree inside with the root plug about 2cm below ground level.

Boot heel is pushing open ground back around the planted sapling

Step 3

Remove the spade and push the soil back around the tree.

Someone pushing a tree guard into the soil over the top of the sapling and cane

Step 4

If using tree guards or spirals to protect your saplings, this is the stage to add these. Press the protection firmly into the soil.

T-notch planting

T-notch planting is another quick method suitable for grass-covered ground but not bare soil. This method is an alternative to pit planting in areas susceptible to drought, but is not recommended for sites with clay soils.

Spade pushed into the ground to make a slit

Step 1

Push the spade fully into the ground.

Spade pushed into the ground to make a slit perpendicular to another slit, forming a T shape

Step 2

At a right angle to the first cut, repeat step 1 to create a T-shape.

Two pieces of turf laid on a spade that has been used to lift them

Step 3

Take the spade to the original cut and lever it upwards, parting the turf.

A young tree placed between two pieces of turf before planting. Roots are showing at the bottom

Step 4

Place the tree carefully in between the sections of turf.

Spade being removed from the ground to lower turf and tree into place

Step 5

Lever the spade back out and the turf will fall into place. Ensure all roots are taken into the hole.

Boot heel is pushing the turf down around the planted tree

Step 6

Adjust the tree to ensure it is at ground level, and thoroughly firm down soil around the tree.

Explore more planting and care advice

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