Container grown plants can be planted at any time of year, but bare-root and rootballed trees and shrubs are only available in autumn and winter. They should be planted as soon as possible after purchasing, but will be fine for a couple of weeks once protected from harsh elements.
Planting potted plants
Dig a hole the size of your chosen plant’s pot. With a potted plant, you can check this by placing the pot in the hole. It should fit comfortably, with around 2cm extra around the perimeter, while its depth should be no deeper than that of the pot itself.
Planting bare-root shrubs and trees
For bare-root plants, like hedging, trees or roses, make sure there’s plenty of room for the roots to spread comfortably. Look for the soil mark at the base of the plant, which shows the depth it was previously planted and use this as a guide for how deep to plant now.
Fork the sides of your hole so the soil is easier for roots to penetrate. Once you’ve dug your hole to the correct depth and width, add some multi-purpose compost.
Place your bare-root plant in the hole so the roots are spread out and fill the hole with soil.
Firm the soil gently, avoiding compacting the soil into a hard mass.
Planting rootball shrubs and trees
For rootballed hedging, we recommend that you dig a long trench a third wider than the root ball and the same depth as the root ball.
If you are planting a tree, then the hole should be at least a third wider and the same depth as the rootball tree or shrub.
After you have dug the trench or hole and lined up the plants so they all look to your liking, use the original soil you have already dug out and mix it with a bit of compost, to fill back in.
A good rule of thumb is to add a couple of shovels for every plant. Make sure that you have not buried the stems of the plant, and that you just covered the root ball with the soil.
If using a stake then push this in now, diagonally, hammering it firmly in place. Small trees do not require staking but top heavy or larger specimens should be staked. The stake should stay in place for about 12 months, after which time it can be removed.
Unless it is winter and the tree is dormant, give the tree a generous soaking of water by pouring it directly at the base of the tree.
If you’re planting in spring or summer, continue to water well and regularly for the first few months.
If you’re planting in autumn, you may only need to water a little. Make sure to keep an eye on young plants and increase watering if there are extended periods of dry or hot weather.
To check if the soil requires further water, dig a finger down into the soil, a few centimetres, and if the soil feels even slightly moist, it does not need further watering. If it feels dry, water and repeat this test again.
Weeding is an important step in giving your trees the right start. Keeping a 1 metre diameter around the tree clear of weeds and grass for the first 2-3 years will reduce competition for moisture and nutrients.
You can suppress weeds with mulch, like bark chips or straw bales. Apply it to a depth of around 10cm to prevent it being blown away or dispersed and top it up annually.
Almost all trees benefit from the support of a tree stake & strap for the first two years until the root structure is strong enough to support it in stronger winds, we offer these as options at the time of ordering and can be added after ordering too.
Some advice on watering
Ideally water plants early in the morning, to avoid evaporation loss during the day. On warm summer days, evening watering is also likely to be effective, the dry soil soaking it in readily and low humidity at night reducing risk of disease.
To determine the need for watering, inspect the soil at a spade’s depth. If the soil feels damp, there is unlikely to be any need to water, but if it is dry, then watering is probably required for some plants.
Be aware that clay soils can feel damp even when all available water has been used and that sand soils can feel dry even if some water is available. The only way around this is to develop experience in matching the observed state of an individual garden’s soil to the growth rate of the plants. Wilting is usually preceded by changes in leaf position and darkening of leaf colour.
For plants in pots, the compost looking paler or feeling dry to the touch and the pot becoming lighter in weight (and consequently more prone to blowing over) are all signs that the compost is beginning to dry and is in need of water.
It is better to water the garden before drought really sets in, to keep the soil moisture levels even and avoid soil moisture deficits building up.
Once drought has set in, it is futile to try and remedy this by light watering over a wide area. Light watering may encourage surface rather than deep roots, leaving plants more susceptible to drought. Instead, make a single thorough watering of the plants that are suffering. Try to water in the cool of the evening or the very early morning, so that less water is lost immediately to evaporation.
Feeding & Fertilisation
We have a range of feeds and fertilisers that we recommend that are mainly seaweed based but have the right amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Broken down these minerals are beneficial for
Nitrogen (N): For green leafy growth
Phosphorus (P): For healthy root and shoot growth
Potassium (K): For flowering, fruiting and general hardiness
Fertilisers are used to improve plant growth. The faster growing the plant, the more it will benefit from fertiliser application. If you have a healthy soil, it is often not necessary to use fertilisers, but using them may produce a showier display of blooms or a higher yield of produce from edible crops. Although a basic is suitable for most plants some require a more specific combination and we will give details of these on the specific product page. As a rule applying fertilisers later int he year or through the Winter is wasteful and will not impact the plant so we use St Patricks Day as the guide to start fertilising.
Remember that healthy soil structure and pH are just as important as fertiliser application in the prevention of plant nutrient deficiencies. Soil conditioners such as well rotted manure and compost help the soil to form into crumbs with spaces for air and water between them, making nutrients, water and air all more available to plant roots. Lime is added to remedy acidity should the need arise. Do be mindful that some plants do better in a more acidic soil, hydrangeas, camellias and rhododendrons to name a few.
Most plants don’t like water logged soil and some will not survive in this heavy clay so if you think your soil has water problems then do speak to a professional who can help you with this, We are happy to offer our remedial advice on each case and offer examples of trees and plants who do not find these conditions as challenging.