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An introduction to planting and aftercare

The choice of species is very important to the proposed site. Factors to considered are the soil type, drainage, exposure, height to which the tree will grow, width of crown, whether the tree can be pruned easily, and what you want from the tree (eg. shape, colours, fruit etc.).The smaller a tree you plant the quicker the roots will establish themselves and the faster the tree will grow. A test was conducted where a semi mature tree was planted and a whip of the was planted at the same time Within 5 years the whip had outgrown the older sibling. When large trees are transplanted they are in a state of shock and after being placed in an alien environment (soil type, exposure, drainage & competition) they take a very long time to re-establish their fibrous root system.

Competitive weeds should be removed and replaced with a wood mulch – not directly against the bark but with an inch clearance and an inch or two deep Continually cutting the weeds down is not recommended because the cut weeds or grass will need to take more moisture and nutrients from the ground (and thus away from the trees) to grow again. Trees should be planted in a large hole (using only the soil dug from the hole), to the same level they were before (look at the discolouration on the stem). The tree may need a tree shelter to aid growth (acts like mini greenhouse) or to protect them from rabbits, deer or grazing animals. Stakes should be placed at an angle, so as not to damage roots, and positioned on the windward side so the tree does not rub against the stake in winds. The height of the stake against the tree should be no more than 30cm – any higher and the stem will become dependant on the support given from the stake, making the tree prone to breaking in half after the stakes are removed. Remember the stake is to support the root ball until it is established – not the stem. Wood mulch should be applied to an area covering just beyond the crown drip line or 0.5m away from the stem whichever is greater and should be at least 5cm deep. Care should be taken to keep the stem of the tree clear from wood mulch or it could cause rot. The wood mulch will help keep moisture in the ground and should stop the weeds from growing. It should be topped up as needed.

Planting bare root
Bare root trees should be planted between the end of October and the start of December or the end of January to and start of March (though this may change as the climate changes). These trees will establish faster than containerised trees.

Planting containerised trees
These are usually evergreens or larger deciduous trees planted for the immediate effect. They can be planted nearly all year round, avoiding the coldest months.

The trees will need regular watering, especially after they have been planted and during the hotter periods. A minimum of 0.5 litres a day but much more for larger trees. The site either needs to be kept clear of weeds with a covering of wood mulch applied, or the weeds should be left to grow tall.

Formative pruning
Should be carried out 2-3 years after the tree has become established so the tree can use all the energy stored (even one dying branch can help the root system establish itself). Dead, diseased wood and any crossing branches should be removed. The rest of the crown should be pruned to the desired form (eg. removal of lower branches) over the next few years to maintain small wounds that will seal more quickly and reduce the likelihood of disease or decay entering the tree.

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