We have ordered several trees from a local nursery, and they are due to arrive in about three weeks’ time. Should we prepare the ground now, or leave it until the trees arrive? What should we do if there is a hard frost when they come?
Ideally, the soil should be double dug as for hedge or shrub planting . Double digging is particularly important for trees as they put down long anchoring roots and remain in place for many years. Dig out the hole a day or two before the trees’ arrival, so that you can plant them without delay. If the ground is frozen, leave the roots in their moist packing material but allow the tops some air until the soil thaws.
What are the essential stages in planting a tree?
Make sure the hole is large enough to take the roots when they are spread out around the trunk; they must not be doubled up or bundled together. Put any supporting stake needed into the hole first, make sure both tree and stake are vertical, and fill in soil to the original soil mark on the trunk. Firm the tree well in with the foot, water the soil if dry, and rake the surface lightly.
After planting a tree, is there anything to be done to help it get established?
In dry weather, water well every few days until the rain sets in; in addition, spray the foliage of evergreens every morning and evening. Ensure that the young trees are shielded from strong winds. (Conifers that cannot be tied to a stake can be given support by a cylinder of plastic mesh that is attached to two or three stakes.) Push young trees back into the soil if they are lifted by frost, and firm them well in. If necessary protect them in winter from bark-gnawing by rabbits, hares and deer with proprietary tree-guards or wire-netting cylinders.