05 Oct 2022

Gardening with James Vaughan: Top tips to consider when planting trees

Gardening with James Vaughan: Top tips to consider when planting trees

It is coming to the end of the time when we can buy and plant bare-root trees. We in our household have planted approx. a quarter of an acre of trees. The trees are a collection of native and ornamental trees. The reason we planted such a mix was multi-stranded. We wanted to offer a habitat for wild birds and mammals.

We also wanted something of interest for all seasons. We planted crab- apple for their spring flowering habit. We planted Beech for their autumn colour and we also planted mountain ash because they provide flowers in spring for pollinating insects and berries in autumn for birds to eat but also, they look great.

Planting a tree

Planting a tree isn’t as simple as digging a hole and plonking the tree into it. You need to consider your land, the climate in your area, what plants are suitable to your local area. However, if you take the time to think about these factors, you will be able to successfully plant and enjoy a tree or trees for years to come.

For example, if you live on an exposed or windy site you would be better off planting native Irish trees. That is because they are more able to survive the sometimes-harsh Irish weather. Our native Trees in Ireland include oak, ash, hazel, birch, Scots pine, rowan and willow.

These trees have been growing in Ireland for over 10,000 years.

Before you start digging the hole to plant your tree, measure the plant’s root ball or pot size. This will tell you how deep you need to dig the hole. Using a shovel or spade, dig the hole in which you’ll plant your tree. You want to make sure that it is large enough to accommodate the tree’s size and give it plenty of room to grow and take root. If the earth around the tree is broken up it will make it easier for tree roots to grow through it.

Dig a hole that is 20 – 30% wider and about as deep as the root ball. This will give the tree enough room to fit and allow fresh roots to grow without stress.

Once the tree is planted you can use the soil from the dug hole to back fill the hole. It’s no problem to push this soil in around the base with your boots to get it level.

Trees for small spaces

Just because your garden is small, don’t think that you can’t have trees! One of the advantages of planting trees is that there is a species to fit every location, regardless of size. Many people with small gardens only have space for one tree so choosing the right one is important.

When planting in small enclosed spaces, it is advisable to plant trees that have a small crown spread. Eventual height is an important factor too. Even small ornamental trees may, over time, reach a height of 6-7m or more.

If you only have room for one tree ideally look for one with more than one feature or season of interest such as coloured bark or fruit or autumn colour following on from flowers. If buying a tree, first look at the label. This will tell you all you need to know about the size- height and width- of the tree.

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