Prunus (Flowering Cherry)

Best Tips For Planting And Caring For Trees

Make sure you choose the right tree by following our tips and hints

Choosing

  • Make sure you have the right tree for the right place as they can be difficult to move once they have become established.
  • What do you want the tree for?  Shade, barrier, fruit, seasonal colour, focal point?
  • How much space do you have?
  • Consider how close the tree would be to the house and to any overhead power lines.
  • Also consider the final spread of the tree, will it block out the light or overhang the neighbours garden?
  • Look for a tree with a strong leader (that’s the main trunk which runs all the way up through the tree).
  • Make sure the branches are evenly spaced all the way up the tree.
  • Conifers are dark and dense so will block a lot of light so make sure they are not in front of the window.
  • A deciduous tree will allow you to under-plant with spring plants and bulbs.
  • Some trees are available bare rooted from late October to March; they are usually cheaper than containerised trees, which are available all the year round.

Acer palmatum at Rydal Church, Cumbria

Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)

Planting

  • Plant in fertile, well-drained but moisture retentive soil. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the pot the tree is in.
  • If the tree is bare rooted, spread the roots out then dig an appropriately sized hole.
  • Plant bare rooted as soon as they arrive, if soil conditions allow. If the ground is frozen wait until conditions are better, just keep the roots frost free and damp.
  • If the ground is waterlogged when you come to planting your tree, consider finding another site as not many trees can cope with these conditions.
  • Loosen the soil around the edge of the hole with the fork.
  • Mix a handful of blood, fish and bone into the soil taken out of the hole.
  • Plant a containerised tree to the depth it is in the pot. Use a cane placed over the hole to check planting level.
  • Tease out the roots of a containerised tree, especially if they are quite pot bound, this will encourage them to reach out into the surrounding soil.
  • On bare root trees there will be a mark around the trunk where it has been planted up to; plant to this same depth.
  • Backfill with the soil out of the hole and firm in.
  • Small patio trees can be grown in containers but do require a lot of upkeep as they dry out really quickly in the sun and wind.
  • If growing in a container choose one at least 3 times larger than the pot it is already growing in. Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom and cover them with a piece of crock to prevent them blocking with silt. Use free draining peat-free compost, such as John Innes No 3. Add a handful of blood, fish and bone.
  • Protect the trunk with a tree guard as the young bark is especially attractive to small mammels.

Cornus controversa variegata at Rydal Church, Cumbria

Cornus controversa variegata (Wedding Cake Tree) at Rydal Church, Cumbria

Staking

  • Insert the stake before planting the tree.
  • Place the stake on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree blows away from the stake.
  • Sink the stake at least 60cm (24”) into the ground.
  • Use rubber tree ties which can be adjusted and have a spacer to keep the tree away from the stake.
  • Nail the tree tie to the stake.
  • An angled stake is useful for a larger tree on a windy site. Place it at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • An upright stake, about a third of the height of the tree, is suitable for a young bare rooted tree.
  • For a large specimen tree it may be necessary to insert 3 small stakes evenly around the tree at an angle of 45 degrees away from the tree. Secure the tree to the stakes with wire guys, making sure you place a rubber guard or lengths of hosepipe where they are attached to the tree.
  • Make sure that there is a some movement of the tree as it needs to be blown a little by the wind in order for it to establish anchoring roots.

Prunus serrula (Tibetan or Birch Bark Cherry)

Prunus serrula (Tibetan or Birch Bark Cherry)

Aftercare

  • Water well for at least the first 18 months until it has got its roots out into the surrounding soil. Trees need a large amount of water so you may have to water even if it rains, as a summer shower does not usually penetrate too far into the soil.
  • Keep a circle of about 90cm (36”) in diameter weed free around the trunk, as they will compete for water and nutrients.
  • Mulch every couple of years to a depth of about 5cm (2”) with well-rotted farmyard manure or good quality compost.
  • Feed with a handful of blood, fish and bone or a balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore, in early spring. Feed a conifer with a specialised conifer fertiliser.
  • Keep checking the tree ties to make sure they are not chaffing or constricting the tree.
  • If high winds are forecast check the ties to make sure the rubber which is against the tree is still intact.
  • Check container grown specimens regularly to make sure they are well watered.
  • Container grown trees will need re-potting into new compost every 2 years.

Betula utilis var. jacquemomtii (Himalayan Birch)

Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Himalayan Birch)

Problems

  • There are many problems from which trees can potentially suffer, fungal diseases, insect attack etc, so if you have concerns it would be better to consult an expert.
  • Dieback of upper branches in newly planted trees is most likely caused by a lack of water, but can be fungal infections in older established trees.
  • Edges of conifers go brown if they are too dry or situated in the path of strong winds.

Malus 'Gorgeous'

Malus 'Gorgeous'

Varieties

  • If you want as much fruit as possible from a patio container or a small space try the family trees which have 3 different varieties on one tree.
  • Small ornamental crab apples such as ‘John Downie’ have lovely spring blossom, which provides an early source of nectar, followed in autumn by spectacular foliage and small fruits which make fantastic crab apple jelly.
  • There are many Prunus (Flowering Cherry) species which have masses of blossoms in spring and fantastic autumn foliage colour. They can vary in height from the tiny, slow growing ‘Kojo-no-Mai’ to full sized trees. Some, such as Prunus serrula, also have ornamental bark to give interest in winter.  
  • Be aware that some trees such as Laburnum have poisonous seed pods, so don’t plant if you have young children or pets.

For more information on how to achieve your ideal outdoor space just get in touch with our Outdoor Plant team here in store.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas