A Guide to Planting and Caring for Bare Root Trees

Plant your tree straight away. If you are not able to do this heel the tree into soil (plant temporarily) until you are able to plant in your permanent location.

Preparing the planting hole
  • If planting into a lawn remove the turf for a radius of at least 50cm from the trunk - grass, weeds and other plants compete for water and nutrients and can hinder establishment. Removing turf will also help to prevent any accidental damage occurring to the tree with lawn mowing and strimming. Food water and mulch can be applied to this area in the early years of the trees establishment.
  • Soak the roots in a container for 3-6 hours before planting and do not allow the roots to dry out, so cover the roots if they are likely to be exposed for a while during the preparation and planting process.
  • Tease the roots to see how far they spread; the planting hole should be three times the size of the root system but not deeper. If the ground is compacted it is important to break up the soil at the sides of the hole and beneath the root zone as this improves drainage and allows the roots to penetrate into the soil.

Bare Root Trees

Planting bare root trees
  • Remove the soil from the planting hole, place the tree in position with the roots spread out onto a mound of firmed soil (to prevent the tree sinking at a later date). The trunk flare (the area of trunk directly above the root zone) should be level with the surrounding ground level. You may want to add a tree stake at this stage to avoid damaging the roots if it is added after planting.
  • To encourage strong root development add bonemeal or mychorrizal fungi during planting, being sure to follow the directions on the packaging.
  • With the tree positioned, backfill with soil placing it between and around roots ensuring there are no air pockets and firm down gently.
  • Use 2-4 in or 5-10cm of mulch to preserve water and deter weed growth, making sure it is kept 1-2in or 3-5 cm away from the trunk. Mulching is not essential.
  • In the first years after planting it is common for trees to suffer from drought stress as rainwater may not reach the roots– so watering is prudent to prevent damage, especially if the weather has been hot and dry or windy.
  • Keep the area around the tree weed and grass free, for the first 2-3 years.
  • If Deer, Rabbits or Mice are likely to be a problem use some form of tree guard.
  • If you have planted fruit trees, remove all the blossoms in the first year; this sounds drastic but if fruits are allowed to develop at this early stage energy is put into fruiting and not into root growth.
  • Check stakes are stable and adjust tree ties as necessary.
Back to Top