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After placing his tree in the ground Richard Scholfield shows us how you can protect you tree and give it a better chance of surviving.
Richard Scholfield: So the plants we're using are about two or three years old. They've been grown in a nursery from seed. We plant in a slot. And we make the slot with the spade. Quite a nice strong spade. Pull it out. Push it back and drop the plant in behind the spade.
Richard: Right. Next we need to add the tree protection with a tree shelter. These are perforated. They've got ties which you put a stake through. It'll protect against voles, rabbits, hares, muntjac, which are the smallest deer, roe deer, just about fallow deer, but unfortunately the red deer would be able to nibble the top of the growth, so you need to take cover measures there. To put the tree shelter on, you just slide up the foliage and gently slide the tube over the foliage. Try and get it so it's just into the soil, because what you don't want is the voles getting in underneath and having a nest in there. Next stage is to slide the stake in and hammer it home. [hammering sounds]
Now, obviously if you're in a very exposed site, this is going to catch the wind. So you really do need to hammer it home well. And there's your tree shelter.
If you've only got rabbits and hares, then you can use a smaller one. That's a 0.75 centimeter tree shelter and with a smaller stake. And they do make small spiral ones you can actually wrap around the bottom of the plant, which are much cheaper. This is quite an expensive tree shelter. Tightening up the bands like that. That's really firm. The perforation down the side.
Once the tree's grown, the stem, well, the trunk, is pushing out, the perforations will split and then the tree shelter will fall off. I personally prefer actually to take a Stanley knife at that stage and just with a tiny bit of blade showing on the stand enough, just run it down, and take the shelter off, because oak trees don't really like their bark covered up. They like the air to the bark.
Now apart from the animals that want to try and eat your tree, one of the other things that will actually slow its growth down is the competition from the grass around it and, if you're planting in a woodland, from the other trees. So you can use a mulch. This is what is commonly known as a tree spat. It's about a meter square. If you put this down around the tree, you can see that it's going to stop the grass growing and it's going to keep the moisture in.
So in the first sort of year or two, first two or three seasons, this is really helpful. It's not necessary. The tree will grow quite happily. But you may get a much higher percentage take, because some of your trees will die. They won't make it.
If you put a tree spat down, you obviously need to weigh down the corners with some clods of soil. Because the wind will take it away otherwise. That's probably enough.
Now, the other way of providing a mulch for the tree, if you take this off, is use something like bark chippings. This is not as effective at keeping down the weeds, but it is organic and it will break down and go into the soil and do the same job.
Ordinary tree surgeons, chippings from some of their work will do, anything like that. You can use old carpet, newspapers, anything like that. But the tree will grow without this. They're not totally necessary. To make the decision yourself: do you want the trees to grown very, very quickly to start off with or are you happy to wait?
The mulch will increase the survival rate, because you'll get more trees surviving, because some will die. It will also increase the rate at which they grow by giving them a much better start in the first two years. The ideal spread is about a meter square for each tree, but that's quite a lot.
The other thing is, you shouldn't pile up the mulch right around the stem. It's protected in this case, but if you were planting trees without this tree shelter, and you'd just used fencing, trees don't like mulch right up against the stem. You'd expect to get at least 90% survival rate from plantings like this, if you've been careful. If you've planted at the right time and you've had a good start.
The ones that don't survive, you have to replant. It's called beating up. So then next two or three years, you come along, have a look inside, check they're still alive, and if they're not, come and plant another one in that space. Do remember that this tree is going to be here for a long time. So if you plant it carefully and do as we've said, then it's going to be growing up into something like that.
I must get on and do some more planting.