When To Plant Your Trees

Planting time for trees of deciduous character, such as the flowering cherries, plums, apples, laburnums and so on is any time when the leaves are absent, i.e., from about October to March, but with most of them the best month of all is October. A few rather tender trees, such as the magnolias, are better planted late in winter, so that they have the warm spring weather to help them recover from the shock of transplanting. Evergreen trees, such as conifers, are best planted during the showery weather of April or May or of September. They are inclined to die back in the cold weather if they are not well established in the soil.

Evergreens, because they carry their leaves at all times, need special care in moving, as there is a constant evaporation from leaf surfaces. When roots have been damaged, as they are always to some extent during a move, they cease for a time to do their normal work of absorbing moisture from the soil. Thus there is a greater loss of moisture from the leaf surfaces than is being made good by damaged roots, and the plant is likely to die from this cause. The loss from evaporation can, however, be checked by frequent watering or spraying overhead; if the weather is showery, the evaporation will be checked naturally. That is why spring and autumn, when showers are likely to occur, are the best times to move evergreens. Moreover, the soil is a little warmer then than in the depth of winter, and the roots more quickly become settled into warm soil.

There should never be any delay in setting once the plants have arrived from the nursery, unless they should chance to come along during a period of hard frost or excessive rains. If this happens, the roots must be kept moist and frost-free until better weather arrives.

A hole, dug in preparation for a tree, should be at least 2 ft. deep, and sufficiently wide to take the roots spread out horizontally in all directions. If possible it should be even deeper and wider. Tree roots, when the tree is fully grown, will extend many yards, and a tree cannot be moved for the soil to be refreshed as can a plant in the herbaceous border, so that it is important that the soil should be right before any planting is done.


Rough, porous compost at the bottom of the hole will allow for good drainage, which is generally of the utmost importance. In badly drained soil there is no air, and where there is no air in the soil plant roots become unhealthy.

Over the drainage material should be thrown some good, well broken, top soil—not cold, sticky clay subsoil, nor stony gravel. Rest the tree in position, with its roots on this finely broken top soil, and immediately drive in a stake to support the tree. If you plant single-handed, the tree can be tied to the stake at this stage.

Fill in more fine, good soil, to cover the fibrous roots, and tread each layer of soil well down. Loose planting allows air pockets round the roots, and these dry out in consequence. Moist, porous soil should be in immediate contact with the root hairs. Try to plant so that the old soil mark on the main trunk is just at the new soil level. Never pile the soil up against the tree trunk in a kind of mound. This will divert the rains so that the young tree may possibly lack moisture at the roots. Setting the tree in a slight hollow in the ground is a good practice if you are planting on dry soil.


Rake the soil surface after it has been finally trodden firm round the tree, so that you leave a crumbly surface layer. This lessens soil evaporation, prevents soil cracking, and generally assists the tree in the way that hoeing assists herbaceous plants.

As a general rule, do not use any manure at planting time. If, however, you are planting a tree in very poor soil, and you know that it is a tree that needs plenty of moisture, it is a good plan to bury a layer of manure well down out of reach of the roots. Manure

in direct contact with the roots is not advisable, even if it is old manure.

Some time after planting, say in the spring if you planted in the autumn, a surface mulch of manure can be given. This me a layer of manure 3 or 4 in. thick spread over the soil surface round the tree, to be washed in by rains. The surface mulch hefps the soil to retain moisture during the first summer. A may save the life of the tree if the summer should be unusual hot and dry.

When staking newly planted trees, be very careful how the t is tied to the support. In the case of a standard tree it may best to use three stakes, set round the trunk, so that there is possibility of its swaying in the winds. It is wind that causes damage to the roots of newly planted trees, by swaying the tree and so tearing at the roots, and the only way to avoid this is stake so that the trunk is rigid. It is important, however, not restrict the growth of the tree by ties that are too tight. Genera the cord used for tying should be twisted between the trunk the stake. It should be examined frequently after planting and loosened if the cord has become too tight.

Occasionally roots and branches get torn or broken during the move. These broken and torn parts should be cut cleanly away with a sharp knife before the planting takes place. Torn rough wounds are dangerous, as they encourage tree disease spores.

If further pruning is desirable to improve the symmetry of the tree, it is best to defer this for at least a few weeks after planting as the double shock is likely to be too much for the tree. Trees received from the nursery in late winter have usually been pruned sufficiently in the nursery.

The method of planting evergreens is the same as with deciduous trees, except that nurseries often supply the evergreens in pots, with a good ball of soil round the roots, which are enclosed in sack. The ball of soil must not be disturbed during planting, b should be quickly packed round with more good fresh soil, as firm as possible.

Even a very large tree could be moved safely if the soil could be kept round the roots in this way, but as this involves the of expensive machinery, it is not generally practicable to move tree that has developed a large root system.