How To Plant A Tree

This article refers to recommendations given by the RHS in November 2010

It represents some recent thinking on planting bare-root and root-ball trees to encourage successful establishment.

We have found it gives good results here at Fermoy Woodland Nurseries

  • Dig over and loosen the soil for 1.5 meter circle
  • Only dig to depth of the root-ball or bare root
  • Dig a square hole 3 times the width of the root-ball
  • Because roots grow sideways
  • This forces root growth into undisturbed soil
  • Do not plant too deep – ideally the root flair should be at ground level or even higher
  • Do not add organic matter or fertiliser when planting
  • It discourages lateral root growth
  • Do not allow bare-root plants to dry out
  • Immerse in water for 1-2 hours before planting
  • This is not necessary with root-ball plants
  • Cut hessian sack and leave under the plant with the root-ball exposed
  • Bury a perforated hose pipe with one end exposed for watering the tree over the first growing season
  • Crumble the soil as you backfill
  • Compress the soil around the roots – no excessive ‘heeling in’



  • Swaying in the wind is good for trees, it promotes trunk and root growth
  • But, too much wind will damage the root system
  • Trees should be checked regularly for wind rock after planting
  • Stakes can be driven into the ground before backfilling
  • Stakes should be only 60-70cm above ground level and upwind of the tree
  • Use flexible ties and check these often
  • More damage is done by unchecked stakes and ties then by the wind!



  • Spiral tree guards give good rabbit protection
  • Water weekly through to the first Autumn
  • Make regular checks of stakes and ties and remove them after 2nd spring
  • Keep the base grass and weed free
  • Mulch with bark, wood-chips, leaf mould or mypex
  • But not too close to the bark – this can cause rot
  • Be careful of strimmers and lawnmowers – they can cause the most harm by ring barking the tree