Aftercare Guide

For the continued healthy growth of your trees, shrubs or hedging it is vital that you follow the advice below.


The main reason that plants die within 12 months of having been planted is lack of water.  It is essential throughout the spring and summer, to give a heavy enough watering to enable the water to penetrate right down to the deepest root level.

Soak the ground at least 1 metre in diameter around each tree with enough water to completely saturate the soil twice a week. Do this every 1-2 days during hot weather, or if there is no substantial rainfall for more than one week. Bear in mind the larger the tree the more water it will need and different species have differing requirements (willows need more than conifers for example).  Please call us if you need further advice.

Weed Control

One of the most common causes of lack of water is competition from grass.  When trees are first establishing, the grass roots would be at the same level as the tree roots and are far more efficient at taking up water and thus choke the tree.  It is vital that for at least 3 years after planting your tree or hedge has a circle or strip one metre wide completely free of grass. 

  • Mulch mats are an effective way to stop grass and weeds, although they will require a careful eye to make sure they continue to work. After clearing the ground around the tree, firmly fit the mat by tucking the edges into the soil and put a thick layer of bark mulch on top of this. Be careful not to allow the woodchip to touch the stem as it can cause rot.
  • Weed killer is very effective, especially glyphosate-based types, however it is harmful to the environment. Organic weed killers usually do not kill roots. Weed killer needs to be applied each year for the first 3 years, preferably when the tree is dormant, or just once before applying a mulch mat.
  • Mowing or strimming is NOT an answer to the problem.  Each time you mow, the grass will grow back more vigorously and strimming invariably leads to lacerated trunks.

Staking, Ties & Canes

If trees are not correctly secured they will rock in the planting pit. Roots not firmly in contact with the soil are unable to take up moisture and nutrients, resulting in die back or death of the tree.  Check, particularly after windy weather, that stakes are still solidly in the ground keeping the base of the trunk firm.  The purpose of the stakes is to anchor the roots.   Flexing in the wind, higher up the trunk, is not necessarily a problem if the roots are firm.

Always use our recommended tree ties or strapping.  These are designed and manufactured with the correct amount of give to hold the tree firm without strangling it. They should be checked at the end of each growing season for adjustment as the trunk thickens.  Non-proprietary materials such as baler twine will cut into the bark and should not be used.

Canes are used to train a straight trunk. Leave these on for as long as necessary, re-attaching with rubber ties if the original tape perishes while the stem is still flexible. Loosen as necessary.

Protection from Animal Damage

Rabbits, deer, sheep, cattle and horses can all potentially damage trees.  Ask us for advice on the most appropriate guards for your trees or hedge.  Squirrels are also a terrible pest when trees get to about 6m tall but there is no protection available.


By Graham surtees on 08/06/2016

I bought a large tree from you last autumn and was told that it would be OK to plant it with the netting around the root ball as it would make it easier planting.
How long will it take for the root system to start moving out of the netting and into the surrounding area?

Ps. The tree is doing fine.

By Dr Chris Lee on 08/06/2016

What an excellent collection of suggestions.  Thank you.

By John Campbell on 08/06/2016

All our hornbeam bare root whips planted this spring are very healthy so far and your reminder to water was very timely so thanks for that !

By Ingrid Rushman on 08/06/2016

Thank you, we will follow your advice.
So far our tree looking great, and giving us much pleasure.

By Simon on 08/06/2016

Hello Graham,

It very much depends on species and conditions as to how long it takes for roots to start emerging from the hessian on rootballed trees, after planting. You might expect some to emerge into the surrounding soil within 6 months to a year, all being well, but good establishment can take about 3 years.

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