Five tips for successful tree planting

23/02/2021 - 14:45

From birch to maple to willow: planting a tree is much more than simply digging a hole in the ground, placing the tree and that's it. A sturdy tree stands or falls with the preparation. And with strong roots. But trees only develop a healthy root system if you are well prepared. In the garden, in a public space or in a street? This is the step-by-step guide to a healthy, strong tree. With these five rules of thumb, you take the shortest route to sustainable growth.

Choose an indigenous tree

Choosing a tree from our region is obvious: rooted for centuries to stay. The tree feels at home here. After all, indigenous trees are better adapted to our climate and its seasonal changes. They like our different soil types and are inseparable from indigenous fauna. And that is good for our biodiversity and climate.

Tree with root ball or bare root?

Have you chosen a tree? Then there are two ways of planting it: with a root ball or bare rooted.

Trees with a root ball or container, have roots that are in a pot of soil or bound in a cloth. A tree with bare roots is completely pruned off and has only bare branches and roots. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages. A tree with bare roots is not only cheaper. It is also faster to plant. Disadvantage? The chance of failure is greater.

A tree with a root ball involves more manual work. You first have to dig a bigger plant hole. Then you have to remove the pot or packaging, shake off the soil and untangle the roots.

But whether the tree has a root ball or not, it always has to overcome some resistance in order to adapt to its new location. This is even more important for a naked root. After all, this tree only has structural roots to anchor itself, but no root hairs yet. These are necessary to extract water and nutrients from the soil and to grow. A tree with a root ball has a small advantage in this respect. The roots have already developed.

But you don't transplant a tree without further ado. The first two years are crucial.

Both types of trees experience a lot of stress. They have to settle into their new environment and soil. Soil conditioners give the necessary push to settle and to grow roots.

Plant your tree at the right time

In principle, trees with a root ball can be planted all year round. Of course, not in extreme temperatures like frost or heat.

For a tree with bare roots, the ideal time to plant is between November and March (in the Northern hemisphere). Why exactly then? Because the flowering season has not yet started. Above ground everything is at rest, underground all energy goes to the root system. If you do not take this into account and plant the tree when it grows leaves or blossoms, it will die. The tree is not ready yet, its roots not yet mature. All opportunities for growth are nipped in the bud because the energy now circulates above ground.

Determine the appropriate size of your plant hole

The rule of thumb? The diameter of your hole must be equal to 2 or 3 times the diameter of the root ball.

Above all, remember that the size and depth of the plant hole is all-important.

Unfortunately, the preparation of the plant hole is often neglected, resulting in reduced growth opportunities. You can easily compare it with the foundation of a house. You don't just start randomly or the construction will collapse like a house of cards. The same applies to a tree.

Everything starts with thorough preparation. It is best to dig the plant hole beforehand. This will prevent the roots from drying out.

A common mistake? A tree planted too deep or too narrow. Too deep, the roots get too little oxygen and the tree suffocates. If it is too narrow, it has a negative impact on the root system's chances of development.

Plants thrive better in larger plant holes. A larger hole means a bigger volume of loosened and well-aerated soil. The ideal soil for healthy root growth.

Place your tree as deep as the height of the bare root or the container your tree was in. This way, the top of the root ball is parallel to ground level. On either side of the root, make the plant hole bigger until you reach the right diameter. Do not forget to loosen the walls of the plant hole well so that the young roots can grow through easily.

Sometimes you can't get the desired width and then you have to work depth-wise. For example, with trees in an urban environment. Make sure that you loosen the soil at the bottom of the plant hole so that the roots can penetrate the soil easily. Press the loosened soil again so that the tree does not sink any further.

Optimise your soil

Few soils are perfect. There are almost always limiting factors. A lava substrate brings a lot of air into the soil, but on the other hand does not hold moisture well. Clay soil has this property but does not drain properly. And so on.

With a soil conditioner, you overcome these limitations.

The TerraCottem soil conditioner is a balanced granular mixture of more than 20 water-containing, nutrient-rich and stimulating components.

This video illustrates how the TerraCottem soil conditioner improves a tree's chances of survival:

In a nutshell, the TerraCottem soil conditioner takes care of:

  • Maximum water retention in the root zone
  • A 50% water saving
  • Stronger and deeper root development
  • Improved growth
  • Higher resistance against drought stress

Discover all about the TerraCottem soil conditioner here.

Unfortunately, the optimisation of the subsurface is often underestimated or even forgotten. The result? Many trees die before they even get a chance to grow.

Bottom line? Look at the whole picture. Think long term.

It makes no sense to plant an expensive large tree in poor soil and in a planting hole that does not have the right dimensions.

A scenario doomed to failure. The tree dies and it costs you a lot of money to have it removed. Just think of the crane hire, the man-hours .... In short, an expensive exercise, even though you could have prevented it with thorough preparation and by investing a few euros more in a soil conditioner. Planting a tree without a thorough plan is never a good idea.

TerraCottem as life insurance for your tree ...

And the climate. Because when it comes to climate change, trees are our heroes.

After all, they cool down, absorb CO2, fine dust and purify the air. Trees contribute to biodiversity and embelish the environment. It's all true.

But ... it is precisely because of this climate change that trees are suffering more. In that respect, the urgency of the above steps and especially of a good soil conditioner increases. Because rising temperatures and increasing drought mean that roots need a soil that is well nourished, hydrated and structured. And that is exactly what a soil conditioner does.

In short: Get to the root of the problem. Invest in a good soil conditioner and thus protect your trees.

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Discover here the advantages of the TerraCottem soil conditioners

The TerraCottem principle