When is the best time to plant a tree?
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now”. This Chinese proverb says it all.
In my job there are two things that are often said to me by my clients, one is, “I love colour” and the second is, “I love trees”. People have huge attachment to trees. Childhood memories of tree houses, swings, fruit picking to name but a few. People often plant a tree to mark the passing of a loved one, or the birth of a child. Children’s lives and loved ones passing can be physically measured in the height and thickness of a tree.
A tree adds, not alone colour, but height, structure, atmosphere, privacey, sound and scent to a garden. It is an investment in the future, and now is the time to invest. I often wonder if every farmer planted 10 trees every year on the land how different would Ireland look.
TIPS FOR PLANTING
The “planting season” or the “bare root season” starts at the beginning of November when the tree becomes dormant, and it finishes around mid March when the tree begins to wake up again. In this period trees are lifted from the ground in the nurseries and made available to plant in peoples gardens. Make sure that when you are planting that the ground that you a planting into is not waterlogged. For this reason November and February are usually the better months for planting.
Make sure that the planting hole is dug 2.5 times the size of the trees roots.
Make sure that the sides of the planting hole are loosened, to allow for root development.
Add in plenty of well rotted farm yard manure into the backfill.
When planting a bare root tree don’t put all the backfill back in in one go, this will lead to air pockets and to damage to the roots. Make sure to backfill in stages. After each stage grab the tree by the base and shake the tree up and down. This will allow the backfill to find its way around the roots.
Most importantly of all, don’t plant the tree too deep. Examine the tree where the stem meets the start of the roots. This area is called the collar. Make sure that this is above the ground and not covered in soil or mulch.
5 TREES TO TRY
The trees that I am recommending here are all chosen for their durability, wildlife benefit and suitability to Ireland. Why not give one of them a go!
Prunus padus (Bird Cherry). Not a very large tree, spring colour, autumn fruit. Great to attract wildlife.
Whitebeam (Sorbus intermedia). Tolerant of exposure, attractive foliage and flowers.
Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris). Great to help with attracting pollinating insects. Easy to establish.
Beech (Fagus sylvatica). Majestic tree when mature. Suitable only to a large garden.
Upright Purple Maple (Acer platanoides Crimson Sentry). A good tree for a small garden. Striking purple foliage.
Acer Crimson Sentry
“To be able to walk under the branches of a tree that you have planted is really to feel you have arrived with your garden. So far we are on the way: we can now stand beside ours.”