How to Plant a Tree
Planting a tree correctly can be a most rewarding experience, especially when over the next few years it thrives, is disease free and meets all your expectations.
Most people's experience has been a disappointment. The tree never grew or grew very little. If this has happened to you! I hope this information will encourage you to plant more trees.
Different experts have different ideas about how to plant a tree. This is my version its proven successful for me for over thirty years, so I figure I must be doing something right.
When you purchase a tree it should be lush and healthy. That is the tree should have clean healthy leaves, free of spotting or disease with some new growth or buds. The root system should be moist and have a clean white root system. Beware of a tree with blackening or rooting bark at the base.
First dig the hole depth twice the height of the root ball in the container and three times wider than the container or more. Why more, Well the tiny root systems of your tree will find it easier to penetrate soft loose loam than hard compacted loam, this encourages tree growth. As you don't want your tree to fall over because the roots spiralled in the ground. Do not use an agar in less its four foot wide. They tend to create a pot with smooth sides that roots find hard to penetrate.
If your soil is hard loam or clay loam or sand. I recommend mixing the removed soil with thirty percent potting mix. This will help your root system, improve water holding and encourage good bacteria, worm aeration and castings (organic fertilizer). If that sounds too hard. Know this it works.
Now it times to plant your tree. Remove the tree from the container by sliding it out on its side. If the root system has spiralling, with a sharp knife score four 10mm deep cuts evenly down the sides of the root ball and a cross underneath. Most container trees have root spiral this is not a bad thing but if you had to cut the pot off to get the tree out of the container, you have bought the wrong tree. This is tree is (root bound) and should be return to place of purchase.
Put some of your mixed soil back into the hole, place the tree so as the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Now for a tree in say in a 300mm container add a bucket of water over the tree root system in the hole then back fill compacting well. Make a mote around the newly planted tree and water well. The reason we added water before we back filled was to prevent the fine feeder roots found at the outer edge of the container from drying out. Dry back fill material act like a sponge killing these fine feeder roots. The more water the better to stop this happening and to get air out.
Add a slow release fertilizer around the top of newly planted tree, this type of fertilize activates with water and heat. It does not work if you put it in the hole. Follow the recommended instructions. Slow release is very forgiving a little bit extra doesn't hurt.
Mulch well 100mm thick. Make sure to keep it away from the trunk. You don't want it to rot. The mulch insulates the tree keeping moisture longer and keeps the weeds down. By the way the enemy of the tree is the whipper snipper. Cut the bark (rig barking) kills the tree.