Watch this step-by-step video - made here on the nursery - showing you how to plant bush or half-standard sized fruit trees. The process is straightforward. The only difference between this and planting other trees is the attention that needs to paid to the graft, which needs to be kept above ground level
For planting a maiden tree, a bamboo cane is all the support needed. Cordons are always grown on wire supports. You can see our other gardening advice videos here
Hello, welcome to Ashridge Trees (Nurseries). This film shows you how to plant a fruit tree, be it Apple, Pear, Plum or Cherry. Fruit trees are usually bare rooted, so the planting season is from November through to March when they're dormant. Before you start, you will need, apart from your tree, a spade, sledgehammer, cane, small tree stake, 32mm square is a good size, wheelbarrow, soil improver or compost, bone meal, Mycorrhizae (friendly fungi), mulch mat, pegs, secateurs, hammer and nails, tree tie and tree guard, and a pair of scissors.
Take the tree out of the bag and check it carefully. Cut back any damaged roots and branches with the secateurs. Put the tree root ball down on the ground, and with a cane mark out a square around the roots, one third larger than the root area, to give you the size of hole you need to dig.
Although we've not done so here, it's best practice to put the tree back in the bag to keep its roots damp. If you're digging holes before your trees arrive, a good size is one meter square by 30cm deep. Mark the hole to keep the edges straight, scrape off the surface weeds, and then start digging.
Remember, a square hole is always better for plant establishment than a round one.
Before planting, ensure the roots are thoroughly wet, then find the root collar, which is at the level at which the tree grew before it was lifted, and which you can recognize from the high tide mark left by the soil where it grew previously. That mark will be the depth that you plant to. Make sure that the graft where your fruit tree joins its rootstock is clear of the soil, so you do not lose the influence of the rootstock as it grows away. Never plant too deeply. If in doubt, shallow is good.
With the tree in place, lay the cane across the hole, and the tidemark should be level with the top of the cane, which will also be the final soil level. Remove more soil from the bottom of the hole if the tidemark is higher than the cane. Now, put the tree back in the bag and improve the soil in the hole, unless you're on heavy clay, in which case you should add nothing at this stage.
Get about a bucket of compost, then dig it into the soil at the bottom of the hole. Then add some more compost to the soil to be returned back into the hole around the roots and mix it all up.
Always put the stake into the ground before you plant your tree, place it off-centre, so it will be between your tree and the prevailing wind. Hammer the stake into the hole until it is really firm. Check the level of the tidemark again with your cane.
Once you're happy with that, backfill around the roots, so they're half covered with your improved soil mixture. Very gently, lift the tree about 1cm, and then press it down again so the soil settles around its roots. Then, sprinkle the mycorrhizal fungi around the root area of the tree, half a pack is plenty for a fruit tree. Add more soil around the roots, firming it down gently with your foot as you go.
All fruit trees need staking and tying. This has to be done to hold their roots still, so they can establish, while at the same time allowing the tree to move freely in the wind, which will help it thicken up and strengthen. Make sure that when the tie's around the tree, there is a spacer stopping abrasion by the stake, and that the buckle is on the far side of the stake, away from the tree.
Weigh out some bone meal, as per the instructions on the box. Bone meal is strong, so do not over dose. Sprinkle evenly over the planting hole and then gently mix into the first inch of soil around the roots.
Water the root area thoroughly after planting, obviously the bigger the tree, the more water you will need. You might have to do this slowly in order to get good penetration in heavier soils that do not drain freely. Please remember that the single biggest cause of failure in newly planted trees is under watering between planting time and the following September.
So be prepared to water once or twice a week through the spring and summer, unless there has been heavy rain.
A mulch mat is not essential, but it makes an appreciable difference to moisture retention and weed suppression. Fit your mulch mat around the tree and stake, making sure the slit points away from the direction of the prevailing wind.
To hold it in place, cut a hole in each corner and peg it down.
A heavy-duty tree guard protects your tree from vermin, cats' claws, strimmers, and mowers. One end is not perforated for about 15cm: this is the bottom and also acts as a spray guard. Just open up your heavy-duty tree guard and wrap it around the trunk of the tree. It'll spring back into place and stay there all by itself.
With bush fruit trees, where the trunk is shorter, use a spiral.