Spring is here and it’s busy season for us tree surgeons and arborists because it’s the perfect time to plant most species of tree and everyone wants to know what to plant where and when. So, I thought I should provide you with a mini guide with a few tips to help you know what to do when planting your saplings this spring.
Why do we plant in spring?
Springtime is when the milder weather returns to our shores, when the soil softens again and when there is more light and moisture to feed our saplings. While the warmth awakens dangers such as insects and pests that may have been more dormant in the winter months, the environment is more conducive to survival and growth in spring.
Planting may be on your agenda due to landscaping dreams and plans, or maybe you’ve just moved and wish to make your gardens your own. However, the other reason for planting in spring is replenishment. Winter can take a heavy toll on a garden. Snow can bend a tree to breaking point, winds and blow them over, and harsh conditions such as frost and flooding cause irreparable damage or be the last straw for a sick tree. Every year we lose many of our garden woody giants to nature’s cruellest months and springtime is time to remove the old and start anew. A tree surgeon can remove the stump or remains of your tree (it’s often best to ask a professional to do this for you) and they can also advise on what species is best to replace it with based on soil, light and proximity to structures.
What should we plant?
According to Botanical Gardens Conservation International 2 there are over 60,000 species of tree in the world, so which should you pick for your garden? Well, we can narrow that list down to the hundred or so species and micro species that flourish in the UK climate. The ten most commonly planted in gardens are the alder, ash, oak, hazel, holly, hawthorn, rowan, birch, willow and beech. But if a little social proof is needed to help you make a decision then the tree of the year, last year, according to the Woodland Trust 3, was a beech tree, mainly because of the romantic story that came with it about it being a meeting place for lovers. However, as mentioned above, it’s not always the look of a tree that determines its suitability for a garden, it’s the location and environment, the soil, moisture and sunlight availability and the height and root system of a tree at maturity that may influence the decision.
How should we plant?
Once you’ve identified the species of tree and where you’d like to plant it, it’s vital to carry out the planting correctly or this could impact on the mortality of your tree in coming years.
Don’t plant too deep. As you’ll read time and again in our articles, trees are not the impervious immortal elements they seem to be; they can die all too easily if given the wrong start in life. Plant your saplings with earth covering their roots but only up to the point where they widen into the trunk. Planting a tree too low in the ground is the most common cause of issues as it can increase the risk of its suffocation or drowning (yes, you read that right).
Dig a hole just wide and deep enough for your ball of roots to fit into, then loosen the earth around this so smaller, younger roots can push outwards and into the moist, nutrient-rich soil with less strain. However, do pack the soil firmly when filling your hole to avoid air pockets: you’ll need the right proportion of oxygen to moisture in your soil.
Make sure your tree is upright. It may seem a foolish thing even to say, but positioning is important because once your hole is filled in: this will be a much more difficult thing to rectify and could potentially be dangerous or damaging to the tree.
Mulch should be laid on top of the newly dug soil to help retain its moisture and temperature but do not apply up to the tree itself as this can cause similar issues to planting the tree too low in the soil.
If you would like any help deciding what trees to pant in your garden, where to plant them or you’d like someone to plant them for you, call us on 0208 292 8992. We’re always happy to pop round or to help with a little advice or assistance.