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Tree Planting Methods

  • Tree Planting Accessories – Aftercare Products

    When it comes to planting, you will always want to ensure that new trees and shrubs have the best possible start to life, in order for them to reach full maturity.

    Therefore, any newly planted tree, regardless of environment, will require careful attention and maintenance. The planting itself is only part of the process, and it should be stressed that the aftercare of your plant is of equal importance.

    Items such as fertilisers are ideal for feeding flowering plants, trees and shrubs to establish plant growth and to guarantee good nutrition. The Growmore 3kg Fertiliser Tub is just one of the value for money fertilisers available at English Woodlands for £9.60 per tub (inc. VAT).

    Compost available in convenient size bags ensure soil improvement at time of planting. John Innes Compost available in 20L bags is particularly good in a heavy clay soil, while 80l bags of decorative ornamental pine bark are handy in order to suppress weed development around the base of your plant and to add an attractive finish.

    Items such as tree stakes or rootball anchors (if you want a more unobtrusive method of firmly securing a semi mature tree) offer substantial support, and are important to consider for ensuring healthy roots, soil and plant growth during the first few seasons of a plant’s life.

    Finally, products such as Rootgrow (applied at the time of planting) enable superior root establishment, and allow plants to develop better root systems in order to cope with drought, while tree irrigation kits can facilitate efficient, regular watering of your newly planted trees.


    To view the full selection of Aftercare products available on the English Woodlands website, visit the Planting Accessories category. If you are looking for any further, specific advice about any aspect of planting you can take a look at the ‘Tree Planting Methods’ section of our blog.

    However if you want to talk to someone about aftercare, we would be happy to help with any other queries; just give us a call on 01435 862992 to talk to one of our friendly, informative team.

  • Windy & Wet Weather Planting Advice

    Traditionally, tree and hedge planting is done during the dormant season for deciduous plants. Leaves are falling; plants are just ‘ticking over’ rather than actively growing, so they suffer less stress from lifting and transplanting from autumn to late winter.

    Unfortunately, this often coincides with bad weather, and this year is no exception. Some areas of the UK have been severely affected by waterlogged ground and flooding, which naturally leads to a delay in planting. In the meantime, we’re able to offer a little advice.

     Flooding Geograph

    ©Jonathan Billinger, geograph.org.uk

    Wet and Windy Weather? Bear these tips in mind…

    • Your newly planted trees need to be secure, make sure they’re staked well. View our page on single staked and double staked trees if you need a helping hand.
    • After windy weather check your stakes and ties are securely fastened
    • Abrasions can damage the bark. Make sure your trees aren’t loosely rubbing against their stakes, or anything else for that matter!
    • Stakes aren’t just for trees, some large shrubs may need staking to help them establish. This is especially true for evergreens. When there is no clear, single stem (as is the case with many shrubs), place one stake at an angle through the shrub to the main branch. See our link on single staking above.
    • For Specimen Trees, another option is to use a rootball anchor at time of planting. These allow you to secure large, standard trees without relying on visible stakes and ties.
    • For waterlogged ground, wait until the surface water has drained away before you plant. If it remains waterlogged consider improving drainage before planting, or the site could cause problems down the line.
    • If you can’t plant right now, bare root plants can be easily stored until conditions are better suited. Take a look through our cold weather planting & storage advice for more details

    Plant choice

    Remember that only some tree and shrubs can cope with periodic flooding, others will suffer in waterlogged conditions. Make sure you’re aware of the soil conditions around your property, and check that whichever specimens you plan to plant can cope with them.

    Don’t be afraid to ask us for a hand, we’re more than happy to direct you towards species well-suited to your needs. Contact us at 01435 862 992, or leave an e-mail via the provided contact form.

  • Digging Trenches – Hedge Planting & Preparation

    “Do I need to dig a trench?”

    This is one question that keeps popping up each year, when hedge planting season rolls around. And the answer is – sometimes ! It depends on the soil, the site and the plant – and your time and resources.  We’re happy to help out with a little extra advice as hedge planting season is here.

    If you are hedge planting long lengths of native hedging, digging a trench probably isn’t realistic, but for shorter lengths of hedge you may wish to cultivate the soil to prepare it for planting, and a trench may be your preferred way of doing this – either with a rotovator or by digging. If so – a few words of advice -

    Digging & Compact Soils

    Be wary about doing this in heavy clay soils, however. Using any machinery in this manner carries a risk of ‘smearing’ the sides of the trench which destroys the soil structure so it becomes almost watertight and also makes it difficult for roots to penetrate. It could also create a ‘sump’, where water can collect around plant roots. One way of avoiding this is to fork the sides and base of a trench to loosen the soil further.

    Composts and fertilizers

    Preparing the Trench

    By this point you should have loosened the soil, and dug out a trench of appropriate depth, which depends on what you’ll be planting (the trench should leave the top of the rootball exactly level with the surrounding soil). If you’re fortunate enough to have a well-drained, loamy soil (this includes some clay), well-rotted manure, leaf mould, and organic compost can be added in small quantities to the soil. This isn’t the case for heavy soils, however, in which case you want to avoid adding too much organic matter to the mix, it is better to use this as a mulch on top of the soil. Instead use John Innes No. 3, or a gritty compost to plant with.

    If you are planting yew (Taxus baccata), don’t add organic matter, yew is susceptible to phytophthora – a fungus which can be found in organic matter.

    Keep checking back, and we’ll be following up with more advice on planting rootballed hedging and bareroot hedging, along with some tips on technique and specific species.

  • Mulch Rolls & Mats – November Promotion

    We’re going all out with planting advice this month. Bareroot plants are coming into season, and the blog is already filling up with tips on soil preparation, trenches, plant choice and planting technique and ensuring your hedges get established.

    When hedge planting many of our customers find using a mulch material significantly reduces competition from weeds, so we are currently offering a special price for our Woven Polypropylene Mulch Rolls and Mulch Mats. Throughout November you’ll be able to claim 20% off these materials, just enter the code MULCH13 at checkout any time before November 30th.

    Woven Polypropylene Mulch Mats

    Woven polypropylene is particularly useful for getting plants established. Laid across the soil they suppress weed growth, while still allowing water, air, and other nutrients to pass into the soil itself. Mulch mats are effective when placed around trees and shrubs, allowing them to grow freely while ensuring they won’t have to compete perennial and annual weeds in the spring.

    Mulch rolls are often used for planting hedges, new borders, and placement under bark paths and gravel, suppressing weeds over a larger surface area.

    So that’s 20% until the end of November, which is plenty of time to read our blog on ground and site preparation and get ready to plant. If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact us, though. We’re always happy to lend a hand, whether it’s setting up an order or simply preparing to plant.

  • Tree Ring Planting Accessories (20% off until August 31st!)

    Wherever in the country you are, there’s no denying that summer has arrived in full force! Temperatures are up, grass is growing, and a good number of you are hopefully making the most of your beautiful Summer Foliage while the season is ripe. But summer’s a busy season, and if you’re looking to keep your garden trim and neat there’s a lot of work to be done, particularly if you’re planting any new trees in the future.

    tree ring

    Fortunately, there are plenty of tools and methods available to you which make maintaining a trim summer garden an absolute breeze. We’ve actually got an offer on at the moment to help out, with  a whopping 20% discount off our collection of Tree Rings until the 31st August. Coming in a variety of diameters, from 68-180cm, they’re a simple way of keeping edges neat and sensible.

    Drive them into the ground either before or after planting, and they’ll create a smooth edge to keep grass, turf and gravel away from your new tree, while stopping mulches from spilling out. A clean edge can help add definition to ornamental trees and sculptures, and really makes the difference in achieving a striking, aesthetically structured garden.

    If you’re interested in picking up some tree rings for your summer planting, or any existing trees which would benefit from a little definition, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time. There’s always a friendly member of staff on hand to help handle enquiries and set up an order, or simply help out with any questions or advice you might be looking for.

  • Don’t Kill your Trees! – Staking

    There’s more to planting trees than throwing them in the ground and hoping, and we’ve already taken you through some of the essentials for making sure they turn out healthy and happy, such as planting at the correct depth with appropriate space and maintaining a sensible watering schedule over the first few years of their life.

    tree stake

    But today we’ll be talking about staking, which should follow immediately after planting if you want to give trees the best start in life, and the stakes should remain in place for the first two years of growth. Staking will help prevent the roots being moved during heavy wind, at risk of tearing new growth.

    Just remember, as ever, to give trees appropriate space to grow. Every tree will need staking individually, and under no circumstances should they be tied to fences!
    It’s important to remember that different trees require a different amount of staking. For smaller trees up to 175cm, a single 180cm stake placed at the edge of the root ball will suffice. For anything over two metres you’ll require a double stake method, which we discuss in more detail within the document below.

    When you’re placing the stake, be sure to locate it on the side of the prevailing wind, this will keep the tree from being blown directly into the stake, at risk of damaging both.

    If you’re looking for a little more information, you’ll be able to find a few additional resources on our site to help out. We’ve published out own full and detailed guideline to correct planting and staking, which is available on our downloads page. Just click on the ‘Tree Planting Method’ sheet, and you’ll be on your way to planting safely and without difficulty.

    If you’ve got any questions or queries about setting up an order or gardening advice, don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

  • Don’t Kill your Trees! – Planting Depth

    It’s a sad fact of life, but not all bought trees will make it to maturity. Unfortunately, this is usually the fault of poor planting technique, rather than the tree itself, and as one of the country’s leading tree suppliers we know only too well where people can slip up. Successful tree planting isn’t that difficult, but the instructions are there for a reason! Planting too deeply, or in wet clay, can often lead to major complications. Read on for some tips to help set you on the right path.

    Firstly, your tree will likely be provided in a pot. Planting depth needs to be of an equal level. The top of the root ball should be level with the surface of the soil. Keep aware of this, if you’ve done landscaping work in the garden you should check if the soil level has risen.

    One hurdle many overlook is mulching. Of course you should mulch, but do it carefully. Use bark or mulch mats, not soil, and only start a few inches away from the trunk. Mulching too tightly is as bad as planting too deeply! Feel free to mulch around two inches deep, but keep your distance and leave some exposed earth by the trunk.

    It’s always important to bear these things in mind, but that goes double for wet clay soils, which tend to retain water. Having the collar of the root ball submerged under damp earth or water represents a death knell for any immature tree, and should be avoided at all costs.

    Don’t be afraid to firm out the soil if you’ve dug too deep, which reduces settling. Most roots will branch out horizontally from the root ball, so this won’t interfere with root growth, and reduces the possibility of the tree sinking. Be sure to check back in the next few weeks, when we’ll be talking more about the best ways to keep from killing your trees. If you need any of the things in this post be sure to check out our range of planting accessories, and get fully prepared for any planting scheme.

  • Screening Trees - Evergreen & Semi-Evergreen

    evergreen and semi-evergreen trees

    When investing in screening it’s important to find species which will meet your needs most effectively. You may be looking to introduce more structure to the garden, in terms of pathways and focal points, or could be hiding an eyesore from view, or obstructing views into your garden from the street.

    One of the most common requests we get is for advice on non-conifer evergreen screening. Evergreen and semi-evergreen screening is highly effective at providing screening above a fence line all year round without the visual distinctiveness of conifers. There are plenty of options available to you, so it’s worth examining them.

    For screening above a fence line trees will often feature a stem of 1.8 metres, with a distinct crown above. Photinia Red Robin and the Portuguese Laurel are ideal for this purpose. For a hardy evergreen tree, we often recommend customers to consider Holly, such as Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’, providing glossy leaves and bright red berries, perfect for autumnal interest.

    Semi-evergreens represent an aesthetic compromise, shedding some of their leaves during the winter months though never becoming entirely bare. Ligustrum japonicum (Japanese privet) and Cotoneaster cornubia both come highly recommended, standing at 5-6m tall and featuring cream and white flowers in spring, respectively. The latter grows particularly quickly in an arched form, with autumn berries adding welcome variety throughout the year. Both of these options are useful screening where planting space is restricted.

    This collection by no means represents the full complement of our evergreen trees for hedging and screening, so feel free to browse our supply and see what appeals to you. As ever, if you have any questions or queries then don’t hesitate to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.

  • Tree Planting Methods – Large, Double Staked Trees

    1. Soak the rootball / container well several hours before planting to thoroughly wet the compost
    2. Dig a hole the depth of the container and at least 6” to 8” wider than the container on each side – more for larger trees. Lightly fork the bottom of the hole to break up any compacted soil. A small handful of bonemeal may be added at this stage
    3. Remove the tree from the container, or in the case of large, bagged trees, remove the bag by cutting it off. Rootballed plants have hessian and sometimes wire around the roots – this should NOT be removed. It will protect the roots from damage while planting and both the hessian and wire will rot away naturally in about 3 to 6 months
    4. Place the tree in the hole. The tree should be planted so that the top of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil
    5. Position stakes on either side of, and close to the roots of the tree. Then drive in stakes until firm
    6. Cut the crossbar to length and nail it between tops of stakes. The flat side should be against the stakes, and facing towards the tree
    7. Thread a length of tree tie strapping around the trunk of the tree and then through the slots of the rubber block, making sure that the rounded side of the rubber block fits against the tree trunk
    8. Position the flat side of the rubber block against the crossbar, then nail the straping to the crossbar using large head roofing nails. Put the nails in close to the pad, ensuring the tree is held tightly in position and vertical
    9. Fill in the gap between the rootball and hole with a 50/50 mix of soil and planting compost, then firm well.
    10. WATER WELL AFTER PLANTING. Trees need regular watering for at least six months. Adjust watering to weather conditions.

    For more information, download our information sheet on tree planting methods, complete with pictures, or visit our blog post on planting smaller, single stake trees, or successful tree planting. If you’re unclear please ask us – we are always happy to give practical planting advice

  • Tree Planting Methods - Small Single Staked Trees

    1.)    Soak the rootball / container well several hours before planting, to thoroughly wet the compost

    2.)    Dig a hole the depth of the container and at least 4” (10cm) wider than the container on each side. Lightly fork the bottom of the hole to break up any compacted soil. A small handful of bonemeal may be added at this stage

    3.)    Remove the tree from the container. Rootballed plants have hessian and sometimes wire around the roots – this should NOT be removed. It will protect the roots from damage while planting, and both the hessian and wire will rot away naturally in about 3 to 6 months

    4.)    Place the tree in the hole. The tree should be planted so that the top of the rootball is level with the surrounding soil

    5.)    Method for a single upright stake

    Place the stake as close to the edge of the rootball as possible. To avoid splitting the stake, use a block of wood between the stake and the hammer.

    Fill in the gap between the rootball and hole with a 50/50 mix of soil and planting compost and firm well. If using a watering system, fill the hole to within 6” (15cm) of the top. Place the irrigation system around the root system, and nail the bracket to the stake with a single nail, then continue to back-fill the hole, making sure it is firm and without air pockets.

    If necessary, saw off the top of the stake so that the top is between 1/3 and 1/2 of the tree’s height. Fix the tree tie at the top of the stake and adjust it to hold the tree firmly. Use a nail driven into the stake to prevent it from slipping down the stake

    6.)    Method for a single stake at a 45 degree angle

    This method can be useful for all small trees and conifers. Backfill the hole as described in Step 5.

    Fix the stake at an angle. When planting on a windy site, drive the stake in so that the top of the stake faces the prevailing wind. The top of the stake should be at a point between 1/3 and 1/2 of the tree – you may need to saw off any surplus if the stake is too long. Fix the tie at the top of the stake and use a nail driven into the stake to prevent it from slipping down.

    7.)    WATER WELL AFTER PLANTING. Trees need regular watering for at least six months. Adjust watering to the weather conditions.

    Feel free to download the information sheet on this topic complete with instructional images, or visit our post on planting methods for larger trees with double stakes, or one on successful tree planting. If unclear, please ask us – we are always happy to give advice.

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