How to Rewild

Plant Bare Root Trees

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Plant Bare Root Trees




What You Can Do

Planting trees adds diversity to your land – particularly if you’re sourcing species which are native to your area, and found nearby. Your land can then act as a stepping stone habitat, improving dispersal of local wildlife.

Natural Regeneration is Best

The best way to plant trees is not to plant them at all, but to wait for them to appear. Sadly, this isn’t very effective if the tree species is located more than about 100m away, as seeds don’t tend to travel much further than this (except Oak!). For these species, gathering seed locally and growing them into trees or planting them into the soil is your next best bet.

What Are Bare Root Trees?

But let’s be honest here – it’s much easier and often cheaper (if labour and tree shelters are factored-in), to buy and plant bare root trees. So this is what many landowners will be doing. 

Bare root trees are delivered without soil on their roots, unpotted, during the dormant period (November-March). They’re considerably cheaper than potted (cell-grown) or rootballed trees, which can be planted at any time of year (but will need watering if planted in Spring or Summer). While bare root trees are cheaper, they need more time to get established, and suffer if planted too late in the winter.

Suitable Conditions

Bare root trees should be planted when the ground is soft and damp, which prevents the need for watering-in, makes digging much easier and avoids frost damage. The sweet spot is usually early February, though any time from November to early March is generally OK if the soil is moist and the weather is forecast to stay wet for a while. Late Feb and March may be too late in drier parts of the UK, especially when followed by a dry Spring.

Planting a Tree

The best method for planting trees is generally cutting a slit in the earth (or a T-shaped notch), then levering back the sides slightly with your spade. Then, grab the base of the roots firmly in your hand and gently slide them into the bottom of the hole. The base of the tree trunk should sit at ground level, the tree should be vertical and the roots should all be in the hole, not poking out. Use your heel to carefully squash the ledge of soil back in around the trunk, avoiding stepping on the tree itself.

Tree Shelters

Tree shelters (plastic tubes) are necessary in many parts of Britain due to the deer population. Leave a tree outside of a tube and you’ll rapidly see why it is that we tend to use shelters – first the leaves are eaten, then the younger shoots, then the bark is stripped before the tree dies back to ground level. Once a tree is mature, the bark is strong enough to resist nibbling and rubbing from antlers, and the tubes should be peeled off.