Autumn leaves

Autumn - The Time For Planting

Innovative design

At Hayes, we are always on the lookout for new plants & new planting ideas and this year we have found a new supplier with an innovative and environmentally friendly way of producing container grown trees, shrubs and fruit. Stairway Trees have combined their horticultural knowledge with an interesting concept in container growing. They grow all their plants in peat free compost in Superoots Air-Pots – these are reusable, recyclable plastic (HDPE) pots with a difference!

The Air-Pots have a gridded base & dimpled side wall design with closed dimples pointing inwards and open ended dimples pointing outwards. The base allows for good air circulation & drainage whilst the dimples on the inside of the pot deflect root growth towards the outward pointing dimples and prevent the normal process of roots spiralling around the inside of the pot. The outward pointing dimples allow the roots to grow out towards the air where they dehydrate through lack of moisture which effectively prunes the roots.

The result of this is that the plant sends out more roots to compensate, producing a more vigorous, denser root system which is more effective at taking up water and nutrients for faster growth. This in turn leads to a healthy, vigorous plant that will be happier in its container for longer so it is in even better condition when you buy it from us.

This effective design is used by a number of internationally renowned organisations including the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Edinburgh. Also, all plants in containers of 5 Litres and above that were used for the London Olympic Games were in Air-Pots. So with these recommendations in mind you can be assured that any Air-Pot grown tree, shrub or fruit you buy from us has had a good start in life!

Autumn is one of the best times for planting fruit, roses, shrubs and trees even though containers offer convenience and the possibility of year-round gardening. At this time of year the soil conditions tend to be right for establishing new plants and the slowed growth rates of most plants result in them being in optimum condition for being moved. It's also a great time for starting a new project like planting a tree as the glories of the summer garden are past now and you can move about without disturbing beautiful displays.

If you are thinking of adding a tree to your garden, take some time to consider your options. Decide in advance what you are looking for in a tree, and get good advice; this will ensure you get the right tree for the right place. Take into account how tall and how wide the tree may spread. The soil type in your garden is also important, plus you can choose from having edible or ornamental fruits and whether an upward, round or drooping, more bower-like crown is what you are after. Trees lend height to the garden, provide shade, create a focal point or more interesting view and above all add life to the garden. They also add to the surrounding area and are an investment for future generations. There are not many trees which remain under three metres: for that you would be better opting for an attractive multi-stemmed shrub. Whatever you decide, there are plenty to choose from.

The best time to plant a container grown tree is from mid-August to the end of May, unless the ground is frozen. Water your tree well before planting and if it feels light before you plant it, water it again. Dig a hole 2-3 times the diameter of the pot and to the same depth. Make sure the bottom of the hole is broken up into a fine tilth. Mix in a good handful of organic fertiliser, such as chicken pellets, to the soil that has been removed. If the soil is heavy or very sandy, also add half a bucket of compost.

When winter planting a deciduous tree it is advisable to knock some of the compost away from the rootball and use this to mix with the soil before back filling. If the tree is in leaf then the majority of the root ball should remain intact.

There are a number of different staking methods, depending on the type of tree, tree size and method of planting. All stakes should penetrate the soil to at least 60cm (2ft). If the stake moves in the ground, it will not anchor the plant. Stakes should be inserted on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree is blown away from the stake to avoid damaging the trunk.

Single stake. This is the standard method of staking bare-root trees, with the stake inserted before planting. It should be one-third of the height of the tree. This anchors the roots and allows the stem to sway and thicken. With flexible stemmed trees, use a longer stake, cutting it lower in the second year. There should be a gap of 2.5-3cm (1-1.25in) between the stem and the stake.

Double stake. This is the standard method of staking container-grown and rootballed trees. Two or three stakes can be inserted opposite each other or equally spaced around the tree outside the root ball and secured to the trunk by long ties or a timber crossbar and tie. This method is also useful on windy sites.

Angled stake. An angled stake is used for trees planted on slopes. Drive a stake in before or after planting at a 45 degree angle, leaning into the prevailing wind. Secure with a flexible tree tie.

Now plant your tree and back fill with the prepared soil, firming with your feet as you add it. Tie in your tree to your stake making sure there is room for expansion - check once a year to see whether the tie needs to be loosened. After three years the stake can generally be removed.

Water well and apply a mulch of bark, compost or well-rotted manure. Keep watered for the next few weeks and in times of drought until the tree is established. Ensure that grass is not allowed to compete with the tree for moisture.

I hope this has whetted your appetite for making a difference in your garden this autumn. You will have to wait to reap the benefits - but that is what gardening is all about! Happy planting.

Adam Berry

Julie Parker
My interest in gardening & wildlife stemmed from childhood days spent working in the garden with my parents & reading books on anything from robins to giraffes. As time has moved on these influences have stayed with me inspiring the creation my own garden & leading to interests in fish keeping & the natural world around me. I still love to read & hope that the knowledge I gain will make topical reading through these articles.