How to.... plant a tree
Why plant trees?
From ancient gnarled oaks to the fresh
vibrance of young saplings, trees never
cease to provide enjoyment.
Besides their aesthetic appeal trees
serve a number of 0th er beneficial
functions. They play an active role in
improving air quality, provide shelter,
prevent soil erosion and reduce noise
pollution. Most British flora and
fauna evolved in association with trees
or woodland, be it on the trees
themselves or in their linked rides,
glades or shrubs. The wildlife benefits
of trees are innumerable, ranging from
the oak supporting hundreds of insects
to the often unique homes trees provide
for rare lichens and fungi.
Britain is one of the least wooded
countries in Europe and tree cover has
declined considerably over a long
period of time. So, by planting trees,
this trend can be reversed and the
benefits of a more wooded country will
be reaped. Planting a tree or woodland
is a long-term investment and for it to
be successful careful planning is
Which trees and where?
It is important to consider the planting
location. If an interesting wildlife
habitat is already present then one must
consider the value of what is being
removed to be replaced by trees. If the
area is already good for wildlife, it is
best to leave it as it is and perhaps
consider planting elsewhere.
Select native trees to plant, as they fit
well into the landscape and provide
homes for a richer variety of wildlife
than foreign species. Other factors to
consider when selecting appropriate
species include soil type, climate and
Although it is tempting to plant larger
~standard" trees, 60-90cm high "whips"
will have more chance of establishing
successfully and will grow much faster
than taller trees. They are also much
The best time to plant is between
November and March as this is the
period when trees are dormant. Avoid
planting in very cold or windy weather
and never plant in frozen or waterlogged
ground. Never let the tree's roots dry
out whilst planting.
For small trees and whips, notch
planting is recommended. Simply cut a
notch in the ground with a spade and,
whilst holding it open, slip the tree in
and spread the roots. Make sure that the
root collar is level with the soil surface.
Tread the split closed and check that the
tree is firrnly planted.
For larger trees, pit planting is
recommended and a stake may be
required. Stakes are needed for trees
over l.5m high, spindly plants or trees
in exposed places
prevailny tree stake
Dig a hole large enough for the tree's
roots and loosen the soil in the bottom.
If using a stake, drive it into the ground
until it is firm before inserting the tree.
The stake must be no higher than one
third of the height of the tree's stem.
Place the tree in the hole up to its root
collar level (ensure that the stake is on
the side of the prevailing wind) and
spread out its roots. Replace the topsoil
whilst occasionally gently shaking the
tree to ensure the soil is in contact with
the roots. Firm in the soil and if using a
stake attach it to the tree with a tie.
Tree shelters give the tree a good start
by acting as a mini greenhouse and
protecting it from grazing animals. To
keep moisture in and prevent weeds
from growing, put down a mulch of
bark or use a mulch mat up to 50cm
from the stem.
Long-term care of newly planted trees is
important. Water trees immediately
after planting and then ideally weekly
during the first growing season.
Regularly weed around them and check
the stakes and guards.
Finally, sit back and enjoy your tree
flourishing throughout the seasons. At
the very least, for the next 50 years!
Illustrations from The Wildlife Trust's
Wildlife Action Pack
This guide has been written by
Victoria Scott, Reserves Officer of the
Cornwall Wildlife Trust. For further
information, call the Trust on (01872)
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