The hole should be at least three times the size of the root ball. This will reduce soil compaction and allow the roots to spread quickly. The depth of the hole generally doesn’t have to be much deeper than that of the root ball. The soil should be dug up at the base of the hole to allow easier penetration of the roots into the soil.
The hole should taper so it resembles the shape of a wide rimmed cooking bowl.
If you’re planting in heavy clay soil, break down the side of the hole walls to again allow easier penetration of the roots.
Before planting your tree, soak the plant in water or if you’re feeling extra keen, diluted seaweed extract.
Gently tease the roots out. If a plant has been in a pot for an extended time, the roots can encircle each other and fill the pot with roots. These will need to be sliced vertically with secateurs. Check whether matted roots are coming from the bottom of the pot. If so, these can be cut off.
Once the tree is in the hole in the correct position, backfill with soil preferably from the site. If there are clumps of clay and soil, break them up to ensure that large pockets of air don’t form around the roots. Adding some compost to the soil mix is beneficial but don’t add any more than a third.
Water the tree thoroughly. This eliminates large air pockets around the roots. Diluted seaweed extract is excellent.
There is no need to fertilise the tree initially if the soil is good and not nutrient deficient. Wait about a month before fertilising. This will avoid burning the roots and will encourage the roots to travel deeper.
Mulching is important to ensure moisture is kept in the soil. A five centimetre layer of mulch will work wonders. Ensure you keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree. Mulch also helps to stop weeds growing around your tree and competing for the nutrients and water.
If you’re planting young trees with a strong trunk in good soil, then there is no need to stake them. Staking is often used for stability when planting advanced trees. It shouldn’t be relied on for small trees as this will just result in structurally weak trees.