How To Plant A Tree

Autumn is perfect for tree planting, and doing it correctly will have a positive impact years later. So let’s take a closer look at how to plant a tree. We’ll take you through some essential steps to ensure success.

Prepare the hole

• Dig out a hole which can be round or square, as deep as the tree’s root ball in its nursery bag or pot, and twice as wide, placing the excavated soil on a heap beside it.
• Use a fork or pick to score or roughen the bottom and sides of the hole to enable the tree’s roots to penetrate the soil easier. This is especially important when working in poorly drained clay soil.

Soil Amendments

Some argue that when planting a tree that is endemic to a specific region, there should be no need to add anything to a planting hole as it would naturally adapt to the soil type. A gardener, however, would want to give a young tree the best grounding to grow swiftly and healthily.

  • Boost the excavated soil by thoroughly mixing in 1 part of good quality compost to 3 parts of soil.
  • Mix in Atlantic Fertilisers Bio Rock Root Builder – an organic plant starter that will supply nutrients for three months.
  • Ready the tree for planting
  • Lay it carefully on its side near the planting hole to free it from its container by either tapping the pot, or slitting the plastic nursery bag with a knife.
  • Gently loosen circling roots around the root flare (where the trunk is slightly thicker and meet the root ball).
  • Lower the tree into the hole, tilting it this way and that way to backfill underneath the root ball until it is sitting upright with the roots close to the flare spread out horizontally.
  • Take care that the base of the trunk (root flare) is exactly on the same level as the surrounding soil. Planting too deep and covering the root flare with soil will cause problems like rotting.


Press down the soil after every few shovels of soil using the handle end of the spade to collapse any large air pockets. Step back now and again to check that the tree is absolutely straight.


Create a wide soil basin around the planted tree and water it deeply after planting. Keep on monitoring the soil around the tree for the first two years. Newly planted trees should never dry out completely for long periods.

READ MORE: Now, how about growing a lemon tree? Click here!

Staking Correctly

Most newly planted trees will benefit from proper staking to stabilize them in the soil for the first few years. After planting a young tree, remove the nursery stake which would normally be tightly tied to the main stem. Hammer in two sturdy stakes opposite each other on the outside of the root ball and tie the tree loosely with pliable tree ties. Never use wire to stake a tree as it will cut into the bark damaging it.


Mulching with compost or any other organic material reduces surface evaporation of water, prevents a hard crust on the soil’s surface and will slow weeds or grass growth around the trunk. Keep mulching layers well away from the main stem of the tree as it can cause rot.

READ MORE: Now that you have learnt how to plant a tree, here are 3 trees to grow in a pot

The Gardener