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Aug 11, 2015 - by Christian Lingnau

17. How do I plant a tree myself?

There are a few important aspects that you should pay attention to if you decide to plant a tree yourself. However, this shouldn’t be an issue, if you take the following aspects into consideration.

Site and tree species

Think about what kind of tree you would like to plant. Keep in mind that the more exotic the tree, the more it can (and will) have a negative impact on its environment and ecosystem. Indigenous trees support a natural regeneration plus they tend to have a higher chance of survival.

Regarding the appropriate site you should especially focus on lighting conditions as well as the soil quality. As an example: the oak tree needs more light than a copper beech. The pH level, the water storage capacity as well as the humus content are the most important aspects of the soil quality. Basically, the bigger and juicier the plants and leaves appear, the better the provision of nutrients and water supply.

In order to prevent strong wind loads, the tree should not be planted on an exposed position. In addition, it should also not be planted in a sink as these trees are jeopardized by excessive soil wetness. Taking the copper beech as an example: whereas strong wind conditions do not ‘bother’ the tree, the wetness can be rather problematic. Moreover, you should keep in mind to protect the tree from browsing by game and/or damages caused by dogs. In order to do so it might be best to install some kind of protection for the young tree. If you plant many trees you might consider a fence for the first couple of years.

The right time

Generally speaking, trees can be planted year-round. We planted sessile oaks in mid-spring (April) and beech trees in autumn. However, you better not plant trees under extreme weather conditions such as frost, extreme heat waves or droughts.

We recommend to plant deciduous trees without leaves during spring and autumn. However, the conditions in early autumn are the best as evergreen shrubs and conifers are equipped with new roots and therefore can easily absorb water during winter.

These native trees can be bought as bale or container goods and are particularly flexible and robust.

Planting

Once you picked the right time and tree you can finally get started! Take measures of depth and diameter of the bale/container and spade a pit twice the size of the container/bale. In order to prevent the tree from ‘drowning’ you should also provide a small elevation for the plant. This guarantees sufficient water removal.

If the sole/bottom is too compressed simply loosen up the soil with your rake. Moreover, you should remove all stones that seem too big in order to support a better growth.

Now you need to carefully lift the plant out of the container and put it into the pit. In case you bought your tree in a bale, just place it into the pit, as the bale rag will be rotten after some time. Please pay attention to the pit, as it needs to be the exact depth as it was in the tree nursery. Once the tree has been placed, fill up the pit with topsoil – or some nutrient-rich soil like compost – and make sure that all roots are covered. In case you’d like to plant a bigger tree you should provide stabilisation, such as vertical or inclined piles as well as tripods. Now, these stabilisations should be placed in an appropriate distance towards the roots in order to prevent any damages.

Tramping and watering the soil is all that is left for now. Nonetheless, the tree needs to be watered on a regular basis – especially within the first few months. Professionals like gardeners and foresters are usually willing to help – if you ask nicely and friendly. :-) Especially, if you are having troubles in choosing a tree, the site or just need some assistance for the planting itself.

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