When should  you plant trees?

When should you plant trees?

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

48 guides

Depending on the species, the location, and whether it is burlapped, bare-root or potted, a tree can be planted in different seasons throughout the year. With the exception of periods of frost and heat, many trees can be planted all year, however, there are still guidelines that need to be respected, such as depth or watering. 

Important features

  • Potted, burlapped, or bare-root
  • Season
  • Location
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Plant a tree: choose the right moment

Trees and shrubs are the backbone of any backyard. They are the primary method for highlighting your garden, providing shade and freshness, producing fruit, or even delimiting borders. To promote the plants' health and development, it is important to choose the right time to plant them. This depends on both the species and whether they are delivered bare-root, burlapped or even potted, or in other words, sitting in a plastic pot. It also depends on the location you intend to use, which should be meticulously thought out ahead of time.

The best time of the year according to the species

Most species can, in principle, be planted all year round, except for when it starts tp freeze in the winter and very hot summer days. That being said, mild climate species will yield better results if planted in the spring, especially when living in remote areas of with a gentle climate. Here are some common examples:

  • Acacia dealbata, commonly known as winter mimosa;
  • Olea europaea, commonly known as a olive tree;
  • Albizia julibrissim, commonly known as a silk tree;
  • Lagerstroemia indica, commonly known to as Indian lilac;
  • Nerium oleander, commonly known to as oleander;
  • Callistemon citrinus, commonly known to as lemon bottlebrush;
  • pittosporum tobira, commonly known as Chinese pittospore.

Still other, more resilient species of trees- that have increased resistant to cold - can be planted in both spring and autumn. Starting out in winter or summer is equally conceivable, with the added condition that the plants be frequently watered, especially if planted in summer. If planted in winter, they should be covered with a ground cover to protect them from frost. It is also necessary to protect the burlaps by spreading mulch, crushed material, or grass clippings over them.

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Ground cover

Bare root trees

When dealing with bare-rooted varieties, the perscribed planting period for trees or deciduous shrubs (the ones that lose their leaves in winter) is between mid-October and mid-March. For evergreen varieties, those who keep their leaves all winter, they should be planted anywhere from early November to early April. It should be mentionned, that whatever the case may be, they should never be planted during frost.
When you need to store your trees while you wait for favorable conditions for planting, they will need to be heeled in, or in other words, covering the roots with soft or slightly damp soil, sheltered from the frost.

Before putting them into the ground, any damaged roots should be removed. Then, prepare them by soaking them in mud. Dig a large enough hole and fully cover the roots with high quality or potting soil. Finally, pat down the soil slightly, and form a ring of a few centimeters around the tree's base to retain more water. Be careful not to bury the crown, or the space between the roots and the base. Finally, be sure to water abundantly.

It should be noted that for sufficiently developed trees, a supporting stand, formed by one or more wooden stakes and tree wire and ties should be used for securely fastening.

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Tree wire and ties

Burlapped trees

For trees delivered in burlaps the ideal time to planting is between November and February, before sap has risen. However, even when planting in these months, you should always try to avoid planting during periods of strong frost. This delivery format is generally reserved for trees or shrubs that are already fairly well developed, and are being transplanted from an earlier location. They are moved with a process that consists of slicing the earth around the tree's roots, wrapping with a fabric, then a metal wire that prevents the burlap from breaking. In the event that it you are forced to wait before planting, the trees must be protected from frost, all the while maintaining the burlap moist with light watering.

When it it put into the ground, it needs a hole that is deeper and wider than its roots. At the bottom of the hole, a layer of compost or manure can be deposited and covered with potting soil.
The burlap must be kept wet at all times, even if that implies excessive watering. The roots should not be within reach of the surface of the soil, and it's base, where the roots start to emerger, should not be buried. Then, the burlap, or basically the wire and fabric that was holding the roots together, must be removed gently to avoid damaging the roots. The last step will be to cover with the whole with potting soil, pat it down it and form a indented ring around the base with a few centimeters of depth. Then, water generously.

Note that burlapped trees normally have a minimum height of 1.50 m; for this reason, it is necessary to provide a support stand, that is to say, one or several wooden pegs, as well as tree wire to make sure the tree is maintained until the roots can get a strong hold.

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Potted trees

Most trees and shrubs are delivered in containers - plastic pots - which offers several advantages. Firstly, when grown in pots, plants do not suffer the trauma of an abrupt uprooting from their natural habitat, and for this reason they are stronger. Secondly, they are more transport friendly and adapt well to changing geographical locations. Finally, in part due to the aforementioned features, they can be planted almost all year, with the exception of frosts and hot weather.

Planting requires humus and compost. It's use should be precise, placed at the bottom of the planting hole and covered with a layer of potting soil to avoid direct contact with the roots. The roots need to be covered completely, and the soil patted down slightly afterwards. Finally, form an indented ring in the ground around the base of the tree to favor water retention, for both natural causes (rain) and man-made (watering). All that's now is to make sure to stick to the schedule of generous watering.

Planting a tree after once the spot is set

Before planting, it is important to consider the adult size that the tree will eventually become. It may be necessary, in the future, to provide sufficient spacing for it in relation to other trees or shrubs that are currently or eventually going to clash. Also remember to consider any buiiling, electrical wires and property boundaries. These elements all need to be avoided.

It's always important to remember that even a small tree will eventually become big. It's probably not the best idea to choose a tree who's height is unmanage-able, especially around the house. Property limits are very important and must also be considered: for any tree species that is less than two meters high, they must be planted at least 0.50 m from the property line. For trees over 2 m tall, the distances shifts to 2 m from the property line. There is one alternative solution, as they can nevertheless be planted directly on the property line if presented with a written agreement between the two neighbors.

More Information

Trees are a big part of making your garden into a personal paradise. To keep them in top shape, follow the links below for related accessories, advice from our editors and more helpful guides:

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Guide written by:

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester, 48 guides

Albert, Manager of a gardening service, Leicester

For several years I have been running a garden service with a clientele of both individuals and companies. I manage a team of gardeners and ensure the creation and maintenance of green spaces. At the same time, I bring my expertise to my clients in terms of the maintenance and improvement of their gardens. In fact, as a trainee and working in the hospitality industry at the beginning of my career, I focused on landscaping in a local community where I acquired solid technical skills through in-house training and the follow-up of major projects in a rapidly changing town. On a personal level, I am equally oriented towards the art of gardening. With my wife, I created our garden from start to finish and I maintain it carefully, the same goes for the vegetable garden. As for DIYing, it’s not to be outdone. Yes, gardening is also tinkering: pergola, hut, pavement, fence, and so on...There is always something to do in a garden. After working well together, my wife and I are proud of the result and delighted to be able to take full advantage of a friendly and warm environment. So, let us give you advice and help you in your choice of tools, maintenance, or improvement of your garden, nothing could be simpler.

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