How to Plant a Tree
Mark out the diameter of the hole at least twice as big as the container grown pot or bare root tree. If planting in grass, remove the turf entirely, this is best placed upside down on the compost heap.
Dig to a depth that allows the roots to be 1" - 2" below the final soil level. Remember that with fruit trees the union between rootstock and variety should be several inches clear of the soil.
Make sure that the bottom of the hole is well broken up to a fine and kind tilth and also raised in the middle. If very heavy soil then the edge of the hole should be scoured with a fork.
Knock in a post for support.
Water container grown trees before planting. If the tree feels light then water extra well.
Root pruning is acceptable for bare root trees in the dormant season, preferable to tucking them round the edge of the hole.
Soak the roots of bare root trees in a bucket of water or a pond for an hour or two before planting. Root pruning before soaking increases the uptake of water into the tree more efficiently.
Tease out the roots of container grown trees. When in leaf this needs to be done gently retaining most of the root ball intact. In the winter a more robust approach can be taken by breaking out part of the compost and mixing it with the soil backfill.
Add a handful of bone meal to the dug out soil before back filling. Also add compost if the soil is particularly heavy.
Firm soil gently at the halfway stage for container grown. Firm the soil well when planting bare root trees making sure there are no air pockets.
Make sure all the soil is used to produce a raised area. Leave as a loose tilth to sink on its own.
Apply a suitable tree tie. Fix to the post to hold in position or place above a lower branch.
Spiral guards are a good option but take them off once a year to inspect the tree trunk for damage as they can harbour over wintering pests.
Wire guards are a good robust option, the tree trunk is visible at all times and they are more effective. Nail to post as shown.
Bend round tree and fix at two points leaving ragged edges round the top to deter rabbits and hares.
Job complete! You have now given your tree the best start in life and can look forward to years of enjoyment watching it grow...
For a more detailed guide on how best to plant a tree watch this video by Nick Dunn: