Saturday, 16 May 2015


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Planting of standard and semi mature trees can add a dramatic and instant effect within your garden. Big plants create an effect instantly that you would normally have to wait years to achieve.  They can make an empty space feel like established and mature. Larger plants can provide statement planting, screen unattractive problem areas as well as creating shade and shelter.


It is imperative that the location of all overhead and buried services and utilities are ascertained well in advance of planting, particularly in urban planting schemes. Deviation from planned positions or routes of services may prevent the use of specific planting location. The effects of root penetration or disturbance by root systems on services or other buildings works adjacent to planting areas should also be considered.

Before commencing work check the work area and remove any objects that may cause damage to the equipment. Check that the ground conditions are suitable i.e. not too wet, uneven or too steep. The topography and ground conditions of the working area should be assessed.  Hazards such as confined space, uneven ground, ditches, trees, cliffs or areas in danger of slide should be identified and avoided. When working on footways take into account pedestrians and take appropriate action to maintain a safe and secure work site.


When excavating the hole into which the tree will be placed it can either be excavated by hand or due to the overall size, depth and weight of root-balls it is advised the tree pit is excavated mechanically.

When excavating planting pits for root-balled stock at least 300 mm clearance should be allowed between the root-ball and the edge of the pit to facilitate staking and guying and to allow for an adequate amount of backfill between the root-ball and edge of pit. The depth of the root-ball should be measured and the pit excavated to a depth so that the point between the roots and the stem (the nursery mark) is level with the surrounding surface.

It is always an advantage to have all planting pits excavated before offloading the trees as they can be placed directly into the pit and reduce handling. But it is not advisable to leave excavated pits open for long periods as rain or ground water will collect in the bottom and it will be a hazard to operatives and public and should be adequately signed and guarded.


The Installation of the tree into its position is a period where accidents or damage to the tree are most likely to happen. Planting should be avoided in extreme wet or muddy conditions as slip trip and fall occurrences will be at its highest.
Organise the delivery of the trees to minimise manual handling e.g. use mechanised unloading or teamwork at a prepared site. When planting large stock where weight and bulk of root-ball creates difficulties in transporting trees around site, it is best to offload trees directly into the planting position. Do not attempt to carry too much and adjust the load to suit the plant size and site conditions. When introducing the root-ball to the prepared pit it must be settled firmly on the bottom and standing upright.


The reason for staking and guying trees is to allow the plant time to establish a sufficiently large and spreading root system to support the tree itself. The materials used for staking or guying, whether wood or metal must be of sufficient quality to last for several years without succumbing to rot or rust. Double staking and underground staking are the most common methods of securing trees and are detailed further below.

·       Double Staking

Each stake should be driven firmly into the ground until firm, one either side of the root-ball. After driving the stakes into position, the tops should be sawn off to equal heights with the sawn line at a slight angle to allow water to drain off the top of the stake. The cross spar should be nailed to the stakes with two galvanised nails and the stem of the tree fixed to the cross spar with rubber tree ties.

On completion of staking, the backfill material should be reintroduced a little at a time and each layer firmed until planting area is level with surrounding surface.

·       Underground Staking

Use three 50 mm x 50 mm pointed steel angle iron stakes, each 1 metre in length. Each stake must have a pre-board hole near the top to allow 5-7 mm multi strand wire to pass through. They should then be placed at regular spacing around the root ball and driven into the ground at slight angles towards the base of the root-ball.

On driving the stakes into the ground the tops of the stakes should be left 150 mm higher than the top of the root-ball. A single piece of multi-strand wire should be laced through the holes at the top of the stakes and pulled tight the loose ends of the wire should be overlapped and fixed firmly together with two U-bolts. The iron stakes should then be driven downwards as far as possible using a sledge hammer to tighten the wire and hold the root-ball in position.


After planting your semi mature trees will require a considerable amount of water until their roots are fully established.  At time of planting incorporate a plastic irrigation tube into the planting pit that ends at the bottom of the planting pit.  This will allow water to be directed quickly to the roots when irrigated.

For related articles click onto:
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What is the difference between a woodland and a forest?

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