The quickest method for trees up to 45cm.
Cut a notch with a spade or mattock and, whilst holding it open, slip the tree in and spread the roots. Make sure the root collar is level with the soil surface. Then tread the split closed and check that the tree is firmly planted.
This can be done in pairs, one cutting the slit and holding it open while the other plants the tree. Each pair of planters should have a well-defined area to cover.
As necessary, protect the trees with tree shelters or guards, against voles, rabbits or deer. Shelters also enhance growth rates. Take steps to deter vandalism or accidental damage, for example by letting inter-row vegetation hide the young trees.
An area of at least 1m diameter around each tree must be kept weed-free for at least three years. This is the most important part of tree planting. Survival and growth rates of weeded trees are hugely better than those of unweeded trees. Mown grass around each tree is the worst option, as grass competes strongly with the tree and mower damage to the stem is likely.
Use a thick layer of loose mulch, renewed at least annually, a mulch mat, or apply herbicide if you wish. A ‘pre-emergent’ herbicide in winter, followed by a translocated herbicide (e.g. based on Glyphosate or similar) in spring is recommended.
For medium sized trees, up to 1.5m.
Ideally work in teams of six: two pairs digging the holes and one pair planting the trees. Make sure the holes are large enough to take the entire root network.
Mark out the positions of the holes before digging commences, otherwise it is easy to end up with too many trees at one end of the site and too few at the other.
Pit Planting and Staking
For large trees, over 1.5m, including fruit trees and specimen trees.
A short stake with a single tie is the best method. Aim to anchor the root ball in the ground while leaving enough stem free to sway. Drive the stake in before planting the tree.
After staking and tying, water well and make sure the ground is firm all around the tree.
In addition to weeding, check that guards and shelters are correctly positioned. Any trees that get damaged can be cut back to ground level and may sprout again. For woodland groups, thin selected trees after about 10 years. Commence coppicing after about 7 years. Start planting woodland flora once the canopy has closed over.
For more information on planting methods, tree guards and aftercare, please see our handbook Tree Planting and Aftercare