Put in a bit of extra care at planting time, and your new tree will reward you handsomely. Here are 8 easy-to-follow tips to help you get the best growth, shade and longevity out of your tree.

tree planting3 300
If you can't plant your tree right away, keep the tree in a cool, shady, protected spot and keep the roots moist. (Photo: Green Deen South Africa)

1. Plant and site identification. It is important to identify the type of plant/tree species you want to plant and the suitable area or climatic conditions in which it grows. Take time to prepare the proper environment before new plants are planted.

2. Clearing the area of weeds. Weeds rob your seedlings of nutrients and water and make them look bad. Pull out all weeds or clear the area you want to plant in before tree plantation.

3. Preparing the soil.  Soil preparation and compost allow for the absorption of water and fertility of your top soil.

4. Preparing the hole. Digging a wide planting hole is key to the fast establishment of your new tree. Recommendations often specify a hole twice as wide as the root ball. To prevent settling, the depth should be no more than the height of the root ball.

Trees don't just make our surroundings look pretty
Trees don't just make our surroundings look pretty; they have a real environmental function, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen and alleviating the effects of climate change. (Photo: Food & Trees for Africa)

5. Planting times and tips. Try to plant trees when the weather is cool, cloudy and humid, but not windy. If you can't plant right away, keep the tree in a cool, shady, protected spot and keep the roots moist. It helps to soak bare root trees and shrubs in a bucket of water overnight before planting. Place the tree upright in the centre of the planting hole.

6. Offering support. Consider some additional support to direct the plant's growth, for example by using a wooden stake.

7. Watering wisely. Water the soil at relatively low pressure, using a hose or "bubbler". Let the water settle the soil. When done, the planting area should be well-soaked and moist. Overwatering drives air from the soil, causing root suffocation. Light watering promotes shallow root development.

8. Mulching. Mulch the planting area with wood chips, chunk bark, pine needles or shredded leaves. Doesn't use plastic beneath the mulch, as water or air can't penetrate it. Fabric-type weed-barriers are preferable. Mulching also reduces watering frequency.

REFERENCES

1. Cox R, Colorado, 2010, The Ten Commandments of Tree Planting (State University Cooperative Extension agent, horticulture. © CSU/Denver County Extension Master Gardener), http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Trees/command.htm

2. http://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/perennials/how-to-grow-healthy-plants/