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  • Writer's picturePiet Stoker (PhD)

Best practice for planting indigenous trees

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

This article provides advice and guidance on planting indigenous trees. A nutshell summary of our experience over many years in the indigenous trees business is this: “If you look after your trees, they will look after you”.

Planting Treeshop’s trees cultivated in 20, 50 and 100L bags.

Table 1 shows recommended hole size and the “recipe” of the filling mixture per bag size

Best planting practice for planting indigenous trees

Proceed as follows:

1) Thoroughly mix soil taken from the hole with the quantities of ingredients shown in table 1.

Tree quality should be considered when buying trees

2) Measure soil depth of the tree in the bag that you are going to plant. Let’s call it “bag soil depth” (Picture to the left)

3) Fill hole with filling mixture to a height such that if you add “bag soil depth”, it will result in the tree being planted about 5cm above natural ground level. (See note a) below).

4) Compact the filled mixture by treading down on it; Top-up with filling mixture as described in 3)

5) Repeat step 4) if necessary.

6) Cut the bottom of the bag from drainage hole to drainage hole all the way until the bottom is cut loose from the bag’s sidewall. (Slides 1 and 2 below) Be careful not to cut roots while doing this. (See note b) for 100L bag).

7) Carefully remove the bottom. You may find that there are roots present between the four folds forming the bag’s bottom. Try not to damage them. (Slide 3 below)

8) With the bag’s sidewall still intact, place it in the hole and check that the tree’s soil height is about 5 cm above natural ground level. Orientate the tree to your liking.

9) Carefully cut the bag sidewall from top to bottom and remove it. (See note c) for 100L bag). Fill the hole with filling mixture and check that the tree is standing upright while doing so.

10) Soak the hole with slow running water. Allow to drain. Top-up the filling mixture if necessary.

11) Build a water retaining verge around the tree. Give deep water two days later and (perhaps) weekly thereafter, depending on a number of factors. (See note d)).


a) A tree’s trunk and roots serve different purposes. Planting it to deep (i.e. part of the trunk is buried) may put the tree under stress, which will inhibit its growth. It is better to have a tree’s roots exposed than to have its trunk partially buried. The hole was initially filled with a mixture containing organic material - which will decay over time. Hence you can expect the tree to gradually subside while establishing itself. These are the reasons for planting it slightly above natural ground level.

b) A 100L bag weighs at least 100Kg. To provide stability and enable handling of such a heavy bag, Treeshop’s 100L trees are housed in a sturdy steel frame. (Slide 1 below) We propose that you cut and remove the bottom of the bag with the steel frame intact. (Slide 2 below) Remove the poly-pipe at the bottom of the frame and then place bag and frame into the hole.

c) The steel frame is tied with wire that is easily cut. Remove the poly-pipe at the top of the frame, and cut the frame binding wire. (Slide 3 below) It is now easily removed. Proceed to cut the bag’s sidewall.

d) Many factors determine a tree’s need for water. To list a few: the specie at hand; season - less water in winter and even less if it is a deciduous tree which has shed its leaves. Soil drainage – be very careful if drainage is poor. Trees die much more easily from too much water than from too little; Time since planting the tree. Once established, it is likely that no watering is needed; and last but not least, Temperature combined with atmospheric humidity.

Joyful gardening!

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