STEP 1: PREPARATION
Careful preparation of the planting site is desirable to ensure that saplings mature into healthy trees. Do not plant saplings in areas overshadowed by tall trees, buildings or near walls as they could grow as high as 30m. Make sure that the planting site is at least that distance from walls or buildings so that it gets enough light. Test your soil type in order to ensure that the species you have chosen to plant are compatible. Collect all tools and materials necessary.
STEP 2: DIGGING A HOLE
Dig a hole big enough to take a root ball of the tree, there should be a distinct ‘tide mark’ on the
trunk indicating the depth it was planted at in the nursery. Leave the turf to one side as you will need it later.
STEP 3: COMPOST
Mix some well rotted manure, compost or leaf mould into stony or poor soil.
STEP 4: ROOTS
Dip the roots of the tree into water – this will help the tree survive. If the sapling is bare-rooted, spread the roots carefully and cover with soil. Shake the sapling to allow soil to cover roots and avoid large air pockets. If the young tree was grown in a container make sure that the root ball is firmly placed and surrounded with soil.
STEP 5: FIRM SOIL
When roots are covered, split the sod and place upside down to bring level with ground – watch the ‘tide mark’. Firm the soil with the back of your heel.
STEP 6: WATER
Dip the roots of the tree into water - this will help the tree survive if the sapling is bare-rooted. If the soil is dry, soak thoroughly after planting. You could also sink a piece of pipe, perforated with holes, into the planting pit to ensure that the water gets down to the roots and is not evaporated in dry weather.
STEP 7: TIES
Trees up to 1m in height do not need to stake. Trees over 1m should be supported using a stake. The stake should be between one-quarter to one-third the length of the tree and should be tied at the bottom.
STEP 8: PROTECTION
If the sapling is exposed to grazing animals e.g. rabbits, deer, a plastic tree protector or metal mesh surround may be necessary.
STEP 9: TIMING
The best time to transplant saplings is from October to April. Autumn is the optimal time for many species. If the sapling has been grown in a container it may be planted at any time of year.
STEP 10: AFTERCARE
After the tree has been planted watch out for the signs of distress such as drought, wind exposure, disease or grazing.
STEP 11: PLANTING MORE TREES
Dig your next hole about one spade’s length away. Avoid planting in straight rows and vary the species you choose.