The best tips and tricks for planting trees

How you can master the art of tree-planting

This guide contains all the information you need to get started and plant your first tree right away. We break it down into 6 easy steps. Note: We give general tips - not specific ones. The steps required may vary depending on the type of plant. If you have questions about tree species, it is best to ask the tree nursery you get your saplings from.

Step 1: Choosing a tree

With so many species available, it can be difficult to narrow down your choice of which tree to plant. As a principle we are strongly in favour of native tree species as they not only suit the climatic conditions, but also do not have an invasive effect on other species. Examples of this are beech, maple, chestnut or fruit trees such as cherries, apples, pears, plums, mirabelle plums or nut trees such as walnuts. Furthermore, it is important to take into account what soil-type you've got in your garden. Depending on whether it is more acidic or alkaline, more permeable to air and sandy or heavy and clayey, trees will grow well or poorly. It is also important whether the location will be flooded with sun or rather partially shaded. All of these factors should play a role in species selection. Of course, most of us are not experts, so it is advisable to get these tips from someone who is knowledgeable.

Step 2: Prepare to plant

The ideal planting time differs depending on the type of tree. In general, however, autumn is recommended for planting as the soil is not as dry as in summer. In addition, the tree still has enough time to spread its roots before the frosty winter. Most trees should be given plenty of water before being planted. You can soak them by leaving them in a bucket of water overnight.

Step 3: The dig

Once you've found the perfect spot the real work can begin. You'll need a spade! The size of the pit depends on the plant. It's usually said that it should be about twice as large as the root ball. This creates space for the tree to take root in the truest sense of the word. The depth of the hole should be roughly the same as the height of the bucket the tree is coming out of. After this is done, the surrounding soil (pit bottom) should be loosened a little so that no waterlogging occurs and the roots can develop well.

Step 4: Planting the tree

After the tree has been freed from its bucket, linen or whatever else you've been keeping it in, it can finally be set in the ground. A spirit level or at least a strict eye should be used to check that it is reasonably straight. It'll be stuck in that position for quite some time and you know what they say! Start as you mean to go on. The pit can then be filled with soil and compost. This should be tapped (or kicked) lightly from time to time. With a pouring edge (a small wall made of earth around the pit) the resulting hollow can now be filled with plenty of water. If this seeps away, the tree can be protected from drying out and frost with bark mulch.

Step 5: Tree support

The stake that we 'planted' with the tree should now be bound to it so that it can provide stability and support in the early phases of growth. Coconut or hemp knit is recommended for this. This support can be removed after about 3 years - then the tree is secure thanks to its own anchored roots.

Step 6: Care and maintenance

Since a few roots can be lost when a tree is (re) planted, an imbalance may occur between the roots and foliage. As a result, the tree cannot absorb enough nutrients and it may react with smaller leaves or the death of entire branches. To prevent this, plan a post-planting cut when it is clear that roots have been damaged. It is always best to fertilise with good compost, for instance one which has been mixed with ash and charcoal. A nettle manure (nettles collected in a bucket, filled with water, left to ferment for about 1-2 weeks) can make the tree more resistant.

The planet thanks you!

If you've managed to do all of this I'd like to heartily congratulate you. You have done something good not only for yourself, but also for all other inhabitants on this planet. The world is a little cleaner and greener, and you've done your part to trap a few more pollutants. Now you're at it ... what is your second tree waiting for?

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