Shrub and Tree Planting / Transplanting


Trees and shrubs are generally purchased as bare-rooted or containerised specimens.

As a general rule containerised trees can be planted at any time,and bare rooted specimens are best planted between Weeks 35-45 before the soil cools down, or Weeks 15-20 when the soil is warming up again.

Some would advocate it is better to plant out containerised specimens at these times as well, rather than say high summer when they could dehydrate too rapidly.

Planting hole:

It is essential that once planted, the whole root ball should be in contact with the surrounding soil.

To ensure this, exacavate the planting hole larger than the rootball of the tree / shrub being planted.

This additional space will enable you to comfortably compact the compost around the rootball.

Prior to planting, ensure that the bottom of hole is flat.

Siting the root ball on an uneven surface e.g a hump, will create the potential to have voids under it.


Whatever the size of tree or shrub, the planting method is basically the same.

The most important thing to do is to ensure that the tree / shrub is planted at the depth that it is already being grown in the container, or up to the soil mark on a bare rooted tree.

Carefully remove the tree or shrub out of its container.

Aim to keep the root ball intact.

At this stage, subject to the size of the tree / shrub, assistance may be required to hold the tree /shrub vertical until the hole is filled.

This can be done in a couple of ways:

When filling the hole it is advisable to improve the quality of the excavated soil first.

Do this by mixing in liberal amounts of organic matter and granular slow release fertiliser into it.

Adding some water crystals at this stage, will allow them to absorb any excess moisture from the surrounding soil which can be used by the tree /shrub later.

In the case of bare rooted trees/shrubs spread the roots out evenly and carefully work the first layer of soil backfill with your hands.


The length of stake will be subject to the height of the tree being planted.

Normally a treated stake 1.5 - 1.8 metres (5-6ft) long will suffice.

By means of a post driver or sledge hammer, drive the stake approximately 600mm (2ft) into the soil.

Tie the tree / shrub to the stake with a purpose made expandable rubber tree tie.

Do not use wire or rope otherwise, as the trunk expands these will cut into the tree /shrub.

The method described above is best suited to supporting a containerised tree /shrub as the stake can be driven down the side of the root ball.

With a bare rooted trees /shrubs there is a possibilty of damaging the buried roots that have been spread out below.

Meaning it is safer to drive the stake in between the roots prior to backfilling.

Finally, give the whole planting area a thorough soaking with water.

A few points to remember:


Firstly prepare the new planting site in advance of lifting.

When lifting the plant/s, it is important to retain as many roots as possible, do this by excavating a trench around the rootball, ensuring the trench is wide enough to allow plenty of room for undercutting the root ball.

This trench may also be useful if you plan to slip a sheet of plastic or sacking under the root ball to assist removal and keep the rootball intact.

Trim back any damaged roots with sharp secateurs or knife.

After removal bind wrapping around the root ball and secure the wrapping with strong string, this will prevent undue soil disturbance.

If bad weather delays replanting, keep the root ball in good condition by periodically moistening the sacking or plunging it in moist peat.

Heavy root balls are best moved on a plank and rollers, or a cart barrow.

Set the plant in a generous hole so that the top of the root ball is just below or level with the soil surface.

Untie wrapping, and pull it away from the underside of the tree.

Backfill the trench by treading in the soil with your feet to avoid wind rock.

Add copious amounts of water at this stage and this will help the soil to percolate around the root ball and prevent the formation of air holes.

Incorporate a slow release fertiliser, e.g. Bonemeal and well rotted manure or compost at the same time.

If deemed necessary, drive a stake approximately 600mm (2ft) into the soil.

Tie the tree / shrub to the stake with a purpose made expandable rubber tree tie.

Do not use wire or rope, otherwise, as the trunk expands, these will cut into the tree /shrub.


Basically follow the points used when planting out new shrubs & trees.

For example: For the first few months after transplanting water regularly to ensure that the rootball never dries out particularly during dry weather.

Similarly ensure that the ties are tight and that the tree/shrub has not been subjected to severe root rock.

If it/they have take remedial action.

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