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How - and when - to plant trees and shrubs

5 Minute Read
Everything you need to know on planting trees and shrubs.
There is something very cathartic about the act of choosing and planting trees and shrubs. As well as being a source of food, protection, and homes for many birds and mammals, we never tire of witnessing the change of season through the trees in our garden.

The budding tree indicates the onset of spring and the longer, warmer days ahead, the beautiful dappling of shade, a respite from the hot sun during summer months, and the gradual shedding of leaves in autumn before the bare wood hardens down for winter. It’s comforting, and one of life’s simple pleasures.

When and where to plant your trees and shrubs
The tree-planting season is widely recognised as best done (in the Northern Hemisphere) between October and April (autumn to spring), as the soil is moist and the tree roots are dormant.

Container-grown plants can be planted at any time of year, but they are easier to care for if planted in spring, as they will not need as much watering.

Our top tip: make life easier – avoid planting in waterlogged ground or frozen soil – it’ll be too hard to dig!

Some of the key factors to consider with tree planting are, conditions (a sunny aspect is preferred by most trees), soil-type (a well-drained site is best. Add compost, along with grit, to improve drainage if you have dense soil), height (what height could your tree achieve once fully-matured, and will this impact anything overhead, e.g. cables?) and roots (they will grow far underground and could go into neighbouring properties, block drains or even cause structural damage to your home).
Proximity to nearby buildings is also imperative when deciding where to plant. 

As a guide:
●      Small trees that reach under 30ft, should be planted at least 10ft away from house foundations or utility lines
●      Large trees, of 30-70ft in height, need to be planted at least 15ft away
●      Trees that are 70ft+ need a minimum of 20ft clearance.   

How to plant in 10 easy steps

1.    Dig the hole - it should be nearly as deep as the tree’s root ball and three times as wide. Don’t plant your tree or shrub too deep as it will die.

2.    Prepare the hole – disturb the soil around the base and sides of the hole if it is compacted. A garden fork is ideal for this.

3.    Remove the plant from the container – soaking the pot before planting will dampen the roots and make it easier to remove from the pot.

Tease out the roots – where coiled around the pot, gently pull the roots out to encourage them to grow into the soil.

5.    Position your plant – plant high, with up to 25% of the root ball higher than the surrounding soil level.

6.    Backfill the hole with soil – fill around the roots and generously taper up to cover all roots.

7.    Eliminate air pockets – add water to the hole after backfilling halfway to eliminate air pockets. This will reduce the chance of dead roots.

8.    Mulch – add approximately 2 inches of mulch to the dug-up area.

9.    Install tree stakes for support – tie these loosely using a stake tie.

10.   Water– for the first year, new trees will need watering 2 to 3 times per week, then weekly thereafter in dry months.

Caring for your newly-planted trees and shrubs
Drought stress, where rainfall might not have reached the soil at the roots, can be experienced in dry months, so we recommend you water weekly during these times. Water regularly, rather than giving more water, less often. More plants die from over-watering than under-watering

A tree guard is recommended for the base of the trunk to protect your new tree from wildlife - especially mice, voles, rabbits, and deer - and stake your newly planted trees - essential if you have high winds.

Remember to fertilise your plant in its second year and commit to regular pruning to shape and thin your tree and encourage fruit.

Expert Gardening Knowledge from The Garden Superstore
All of our products have been put through their paces by our in-house team. We only recommend the very best - those you can 100% rely on, every time. 

Here are our recommended products for tree planting:
●      Tree planting and mulching compost
●      Tree stakes
●      Tree ties
●      Tree guards

In addition to the emotional benefits of introducing new life, caring for your newly planted trees and shrubs, and the satisfaction of watching them grow, perhaps even bearing fruit, trees offer obvious practical benefits too.

Aesthetically, trees and shrubs can be a really effective way of softening your garden design, zoning areas and masking walls, fence panels or unsightly views with a pleasing canopy of green.

All that’s left to do now is choose which trees and shrubs will join your soft landscaping this spring!

Tree planting Growing Media

We have a selection of professional tree planting composts designed to give young trees and shrubs the head start they need.


Tree stakes

For tree planting and tree support.


Tree ties

For supporting young and established trees.


Tree guards

For baby saplings to developing trees.

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