This time of the year is when trees and hedges are traditionally planted. It has it origins in a time when trees and large plants were mainly grown in fields and moving and planting them could only be done when the plants were dormant.
Nowadays with a lot of developments in growing techniques and after care trees of most sizes can be planted at most times of the year. One of my first jobs when I left college was on a landscaping job where large Lime trees were lifted with a crane over a house to be planted in the month of June!!! (Back in the original boom on Ailesbury Road in Dublin...enough said!!)
This is not the norm and I still favor planting at this time of the year. Its usually a nice job (soil and weather allowing) and its very rewarding to drive by years later and see them develop.
One of the most common problems I come across are poorly chosen and planted trees. The main problem usually is planting a tree which will grow too large for the space in time. You need to think about the size of the tree when it matures and not the day it is planted. A common reply to this is 'we can top it in the future' or 'I'll be dead before that happens'.
Why incur further cost done the line, spending money on tree surgeons etc when if the right species is selected and right spacing's trees can be enjoyed for many lifetimes. I always spend a good bit of time accessing a site beforehand to make sure we get this right. Mark out the proposed location and look from lots of locations, windows, patios, roads etc. Try your best to imagine what effect it may have on light if planted on southern and western sides of your garden. (use existing trees as a guide, visit parks etc to see the species fully mature)
Another big problem is choosing a tree that will not grow well in your soil or location. Look around and see what is growing well. For example,if you live in a wet and windy hill side there is not much point in planting big parkland beech trees for instance. Work with nature. Plant smaller species that like these conditions like willow, alder, field maple etc. Plant them as very young trees so you wouldn't be trying to take stake large sail like trees.
Once your happy with your choice then planting is the next big job. Its worth taking your time and doing as good as job as possible....you only get to plant it once!!!
Dig the hole to 1.5-2 times as big as the roots of the tree you are planting. Its very important to dig over the base and sides of the hole. In wet soils the action of the spade can cause the side of the planting hole to glaze over and the young roots struggle to break through this. Place the tree in the hole, make sure it is not planted too high or low and backfill. Avoid stomping around too much on the new soil as this will make it harder for the tree to root. Don't add any compost or fertilizer at this stage. Personally if you have chosen the right tree and for your conditions these are not needed. Think of it this way, the tree may live for 50 years what is a barrow of compost going to do over this time but if the soil suits the tree then all is fine. The new tree needs to have a stake on the wind ward side and appropriate tree tie. Things to watch out for include have a strong tie but check regularly and remove fully as soon as possible (year two onwards) and don't stake too high as this will not support the roots.
This is just a small overview and is a topic I will cover again. Over time I hope to have a good library of information on lots of topics and will be a good reference as you start your gardening adventures. In the mean time if you want any help with tree selection and advice feel free to contact us.