GARDENING: Planting container-grown trees

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CONTAINER-GROWN trees can be planted any time of the year, unless the soil is frozen or waterlogged, but are easier to care for if planted in autumn or winter.

Bareroot and rootballed trees should be planted immediately, or heeled in (temporary planting in soil to prevent the roots drying out) until planting is possible.

Soak the container thoroughly, or steep the rootball in a bucket of water for an hour.

To plant, loosen the soil generally to eliminate compaction and improve drainage and improve background fertility by incorporating fertiliser, such as fish, blood and bone, organic matter and lime (if required).

Dig a hole that is no deeper than the roots, but 2-3 times the diameter. Break up the soil at the sides and bottom.

With container-grown plants, the top layers of compost should be scraped away, and the point where the roots flare out should be near the soil surface.

Place the tree in the hole, refill and firm the soil gently.

Pile some of the remaining soil around the tree to create a “lip”, to direct water into the rootball of the plant. You can also half-bury a two-litre plastic pop bottle with the bottom cut off – this gets water straight to the roots.

If the tree requires staking, use two short stakes, one either side, with a crossbar joining the two. Position the stakes on the upwind side. Regular watering after planting is essential.

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