Autumn Is The Perfect Time For Tree Planting

Autumn is the perfect time to plant trees, allowing them to allow them to establish before the hot, dry weather of the following seasons. There are many trees that will provide interest throughout the seasons, displaying fresh spring/summer growth and blossom. Trees such as Japanese maples have glorious, vibrant autumn textures and colours. Planting is best done between October and April, but avoid planting in waterlogged or frozen soil. Container grown plants can be planted any time of the year, but are easier to care for if planted in autumn or winter as they need less watering than ones planted in spring or summer. It is important when selecting your tree to check its suitability for the position that you have in mind. Our experienced horticulturalists will be happy to give advice when required.

Prepare the hole

Good ground preparation and planting is essential to ensure your chosen tree gets off to a fine start.  Dig a hole twice the width and twice the depth of the plant.  It is important to dig over the bottom of the hole as this will aid drainage  and assist in root establishment.   Add a planting medium such as Rose, Tree & Shrub to the removed soil to encourage good root growth.  (50/50 mix.) 

Planting Your Tree

Thoroughly soak the root ball in water before planting - standing it in a bucket of water is good for this.  Remove it from the container.  The tree should be positioned in the hole to ensure that the final depth is the same as it was in the container, so that the top of the root ball is level with the finishing height of the surrounding soil.  (A piece of wood can be used to check the level.)  Back fill with a mixture of the soil taken from the hole and some Rose, Tree & Shrub Compost, plus a handful of suitable fertilizers.  Keeping the tree straight, firm the soil well by treading it down with your feet to eliminate air pockets. 

Provide support for the tree using a stake, knocking it in at an angle of forty-five degrees to the trunk of the tree and tie in using a tree tie.  A tree guard or spiral can also be used if your garden is likely to have wildlife visitors who may nibble at the bark.  

Apply a mulch (organic matter such as chipped bark) at a depth of 2 - 3 inches around the base of the tree, which will aid water retention after planting, add nutrients and supress weeds.  Leave a collar of 4 inches around the woody stems that is free of mulch to prevent the risk of rotting the bark. 


It is essential that the tree does not dry out for any period of time in the first season.  Light autumn or winter rainfall will not be enough as the surface can appear moist, but may be dry around the roots.  Dry and windy conditions will also contribute to water shortages.  If you are unsure, use a trowel to dig down to the side of the root ball to check if the soil is beginning to dry out. 

Use a suitable fertiliser to top dress around the tree in March and mulch annually to ensure maximum growth.  Inspect tree ties in spring and again the following autumn.  These should be adjusted accordingly to prevent damage to the stem.  Remove these after two growing seasons when the tree should have made sufficient root growth to anchor itself.  

Remember to pick up your free tree planting leaflet guide in store, which includes advice on container planted trees.  

Click here to visit our trees website page and please do remember to ask any of our trained horticulturalists for advice when selecting your tree.