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This page will help you increase your chance of success as the greatest cause of failure is in handling and planting.
We accept no liability for any type of loss, damage or injury resulting from the following general guidance.


number 1 General
When to plant

Our trees are normally sold from November to March, which is the ‘dormant' season. For barerooted trees this is generally the only time to plant.

In theory containerised trees can be planted at any time of year as they have compact roots surrounded with compost. However we would recommend avoiding the summer months if you are planting more than a small number and cannot water them regularly in dry weather.

Size of plants
Forestry trees are generally 40-60cm tall but can be up to 1 metre.

See photo 1 - Bundle of forestry trees (ash).

Hedging plants are usually somewhere between 30cm and 80cm depending on grade and species.

As important as height is the general sturdiness of the transplant and the ‘root collar diameter' (the thickness of the stem at the base of the tree), which indicates the development of the root system.

See photo 2.

Orchard trees and parkland trees will generally be around 1.2 to 1.5m tall. This gives a good sturdy tree, which can be worked to create various desired forms.

Larger trees eg: 1.2m can also be planted in specific cases, for example where bracken is a problem or you want a more instant result.

As a general rule the larger the tree, the more difficult it is to transplant successfully. Our range of large cell grown stock is ideal for the economic and successful planting of larger sizes and fills a useful gap between the larger ‘forestry' sizes and the much heavier landscaping trees.

See photo 3.


forestry tree roots

planted root


large cell roots


number 2 Care of trees before and during planting

This is most important and it would be almost impossible for our trees to be dead when they reach you.

Plant as soon as possible after receiving your trees. If you are planting within a day or two they can be stored in a cool place and out of any wind in the packaging from the nursery. A shed or garage is ideal.
Do not expose roots to the air for longer than absolutely necessary. Wind will dry out the very fine hairs that the tree needs for survival. If the roots have dried out, soak in water as soon as possible.
Do not expose the roots to frost, though this is usually less important than wind damage and drying out.
If you need to store trees for more than a couple of days ‘heeling' them into a trench is recommended. Dig a trench approximately a foot deep. (photo 4) Remove sharp stones. Make sure the trees are tightly tied in bundles. Place the bundles tightly into the trench. Re-fill the trench covering the roots completely, keeping the tips of the trees clear of soil. Firm down with the heel of your boot to eliminate air in the trench, paying particular attention to the middle of the bundles as these may remain exposed to the air (photo 5). The objective is to keep the roots moist and frost free until ready for planting. Trees stored in this way should be fine for a couple of weeks, though early planting is still encouraged.
When planting always transport the trees in a plastic bag removing one at a time.

number 3 How to plant

Notch planting – Forestry and Hedging

The quickest and most effective method for seedlings, (eg: 40-60cm).

digging a hole

Insert a sharp spade into the soil as deep as the roots of the tree you are planting. (photo 4) Make two slits in an ‘L' or ‘T' shape. On the second, open the notch with the spade and insert the tree making sure the roots point down and the tree is straight (photo 5). The tree needs to be planted to the depth of the ‘root collar'. This is the area between the roots and the stem where the bark begins (see above). On cell grown trees simply plant so as to just cover the cell. Firm all around to eliminate air pockets (photo 6).

A variation on this method is to remove a clod of soil, turn it upside down and plant through this. This reduces weed competition and is useful in wet areas as it reduces the risk of waterlogging by raising the tree slightly.

See photo 7.

Insert canes avoiding the roots of the tree. The picture shows how to attach a spiral guard to cause the least damage, starting at the bottom and winding upwards (photo 8).

Lay mulch mats or apply herbicide as appropriate, following all instructions with the latter regarding safe use.

Square hole' planting

This is suitable for fruit trees, larger trees, or container stock.

Remove a square of turf and save it for later. Dig a suitable sized hole which will easily accommodate all of the roots. Photo hole 1

Loosen soil in the base. Now is the time to insert a stake, driving it firmly into the bottom of the hole (staking later would damage the roots). If you can, put the stake on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree tends to be blown away from it. Insert the tree and backfill. Photo hole 2

Backfill the hole and replace the original turf around the base of the tree. Firm everything down to eliminate air pockets.

See photo hole 3.

Fix ties and guards as appropriate and lay mulch mats or apply herbicides for weed control. Do not allow the stake to extend more than a couple of inches higher than the tree tie as the tree will rub against the stake in the wind.   In fruit trees this will invariably create a point for canker to infect the tree.


inserting tree into ground

stamping down the soil around the tree

removing tree cover

hole for tree

hammering down stake

backfilling the hole


finished planted tree

Correct planting.

stake rubbing

Stake rubbing.


number 4 Weeding

This is essential and is often a cause of failure. The objective is to keep an area up to a metre square around the base of the tree weed free until the tree has established. (photo 13). This is done to remove competition for moisture and minerals and can be achieved either with herbicides or mulch mats. We sell woven plastic or natural mulch mats. Mulching also reduces water loss through evaporation and increases soil temperature. Strimming grass is not an alternative. This will only make the grass more vigorous and you will at some point hit the tree with the strimmer.

mulch mat

Mulch Mats

50cm square much mat ready cut. Allows water to penetrate, retains moisture and suppresses grass.   C/w 4 pegs   £1.50.

(postage free but limited to one product per fruit tree ordered).


There will always be a proportion of trees that do not survive transplanting and need replacing. The objective is to minimise this number. It is more expensive to re-plant than to buy quality trees and plant correctly.


number 5 Guards & Sundries

All areas planted with trees must be free from grazing animals, i.e.fenced out, appropriately or the trees must be protected individually. Cattle and horses can reach over fences so plant hedges about a metre from the fence. Mainstream tree guards will provide good protection from rabbits but none at all from sheep or cattle, etc.

There is no remedy for grey squirrels, which attack bark after a few years, except by trapping and shooting. Grey squirrels are not native and are one of the greatest threats to woodland in the UK.

We can supply a range of planting sundries. Here are the most common:

Spirals and Canes

Our spirals are top quality 60cm 50mm wide clear plastic supplied with holes for ventilation or without. They are normally used in forestry but are suitable for basic fruit tree protection also. Canes are 3ft 12-14 lbs weight and best quality.

Buy 50mm Spiral and 3ft Cane: 50p (postage free but only when ordered with fruit trees).

tree spiral

Contact us to purchase guards without trees (min qty 100).

Shrub guards

Where spirals are unsuitable wider guards can be used. There are a wide range of products available. Mesh based products work well and are economical.

shrub guard

2 types of guard

Contact us to purchase.

Guards for Fruit Trees

Where the area is fenced out from grazing simple rabbit protection is sufficient but bear in mind rabbits can get over smaller guards in heavy snowfall. A 1.2 metre mesh guard will provide all season rabbit protection.

Buy 1.2m Light Mesh Guard for £2.50 ( postage free but only when bought with fruit trees ). Product may differ slightly from that shown.

1 x 32mm (or larger) stake is required.

Contact us for larger quantities or to purchase without a tree.

larger stakes and guards


Grazing' Guards

This is an area that has a lot of potential in providing an economical and effective solution to grazing of sheep between trees of all kinds.

grazing guard

guard protection from dog

Cattle and horses must be excluded or the traditional 3 or 4 post method or wrought iron guard is the only option.

4 post guard

Please contact us for more information.


We provide a range of treated and untreated sawn stakes. Fencing materials are best sourced as locally as possible as delivery is expensive.

Buy One Stake 32mm Sawn untreated Douglas/Larch or Cedar £0.65 (postage free but limited to 2 stakes per fruit tree purchased at the same time).

wooden stake


Buy rubber 12 or 15 inch buckle tree tie with spacer £1 each (postage free – only available when purchased with trees).

rubber ties


For individual specimens, such as parkland trees, these can be individually fenced or our range of sheep guards can be used see Guards.

sheep guard

sheep guard and sheep

This can work well with fruit and parkland trees, grazing the spaces in between with sheep. Cattle and horses however, will reach up and damage fruit bearing branches of young and mature trees.

number 6 Spacing

Spacing Example Approx no of trees per hectare Approx no/acre
25m Parkland 16 6
10m Farm orchard 100 40
8m Farm orchard 144 58
6m Orchard 256 104
5m Dwarf fruit 400 162
4m Amenity 625 253
3m Amenity 1089 441
2.5m Broadleaved 1600 648
2m Conifers 2500 1012
1m Soft fruit 10000 4047

1 hectare is 10,000 square metres, one hundredth of a square kilometre. It is 2.471 acres. The normal spacing for new planting of native mixed woodland is around 1,600 trees per hectare, about 2.5m apart. This will allow the wood to establish and be ready for thinning after approximately 15 years.


The ideal hedge is planted in either one row approximately 6 inches apart or in two offset rows with plants a foot apart. Either way you will need around 5 plants per running metre.

hedge row

As a guide a perfectly square one hectare field (2.471 acres) will measure 400 metres around its perimeter. You will therefore need 2,000 plants to enclose a square hectare at 6 inch spacing (1,400 per square acre). A more rectangular field will need more hedging plants as more of the area adjoins the boundary. A good footstep by an average height person is roughly a metre when you're measuring out.

Planting for Shelter

This is much wider than a hedge. Plant at least two rows, offset. You are looking for a diffuse upper layer to slow the wind and a more solid lower barrier made up of shrub like plants.

Spacing will vary but expect a maximum of a metre between plants within the row and up to 3 metres between rows.



number 7 Orchards & Fruit Trees

At the turn of the twentieth century there were several thousand hectares of orchard across Wales. Since the 1950's these have all but disappeared along with many traditional Welsh varieties. By 1992 (according to MAFF) only 9 hectares of orchard remained in the whole of Powys.  


Traditional farm orchards tended to grow hardy varieties of apple with a few pears, plums and damsons. In Wales these need to be disease resistant, vigorous and tolerant of damp, cold and windy conditions. This might restrict the planting of ‘supermarket' apples but on the other hand opens up a range of much more interesting, traditional and diverse varieties. The Plant an Orchard page contains a list of some suggested generally hardy varieties. A lot of these are old, predate chemical reliance and have been kept in cultivation on their merit.

healthy apples

There are diseases of the tree (the worst being canker) and pests/diseases of the fruit, the most common probably being scab. Cool humid conditions are bad for both. Canker must be avoided in the long term. Scab is best avoided but could be tolerated except where the apples are for sale.

apple scab

When an apple is pressed the juice is always sweeter to taste than eating the apple whole. This again may increase the range of useful varieties open to planting.

pressing apples



Rootstocks: Why the strange numbers?

The rootstock determines the overall height and vigour of the tree.   For apples, most commercial UK rootstocks have “M” numbers, each of which has been bred to give a more or less vigorous tree, deriving from the ‘Malling' and ‘Malling-Merton' breeding programmes.

The scionwood or bud is grafted onto the rootstock from the fruiting variety as most trees grown from seed will rarely be ‘true to type'. Therefore you know what type of fruit and size of tree you are going to get each time.  


For apples, our nursery generally uses the following 3 rootstocks:


The most vigorous and suitable for traditional orchards and less fertile soils.   Eventual height up to 7 metres (un-pruned), 3 to 4 metres (pruned to open centre).


Semi-vigorous about 5 metres overall height (un-pruned), or up to 3 metres (pruned to open centre). Better for closer spaced plantings.


Semi-dwarf about 2 ½ metres final height and may need permanent staking in exposed areas. Good for bush trees in gardens and for cordons.

Our plums, damsons and pears are usually all on the more semi to vigorous stocks (St Julien A, COLT).

Orchard Spacing

Traditional farm orchard spacing is up to 10 x 10 metres apart for open centred trees on vigorous rootstocks. Trees can be pruned to restrict size and spread and smaller rootstocks can be used for closer spacing and in gardens (see above for eventual sizes).

Remember to allow for the spread of the tree as well as height, particularly near walls & fences etc. You are looking for good air circulation around and through the trees, which contributes to reduction in fungal disease.

In modern commercial orchards, trees are grown much closer together on dwarfing rootstocks and are pruned to form ‘pyramids' like a Christmas tree.   This is what you see for example as you drive through Herefordshire.

There is an increasing interest in ‘own root' fruit trees, ie varieties grown without rootstocks.

The Land

You need sunlight, a fairly well drained soil, some protection from the wind and to be able to avoid the worst frost pockets and/or choose later flowering varieties. Fruits also do not do well in salty air. There is no real altitude limit at least for apples, subject to being able to maintain adequate conditions for flowering and pollination.



Most fruit trees need the pollen of another variety of the same species to set fruit. In theory this means that you need at least two different varieties of tree that flower at about the same time. Even ‘self fertile' varieties will benefit from this, apples especially.  


Apples are classified into ‘Pollination Groups' eg: A, B C etc according to flowering time. You can choose to plan your garden or orchard around this, but there is often sufficient pollen around, especially in urban areas. Certain crab apple varieties are good pollinators and these are often planted at the ends of rows or around the orchard and are worth planting where higher yields are sought.   Golden Hornet, John Downie and Evereste are good pollinators and are popular in their own right as ornamental trees/for jam making.

‘Triploids' require two other varieties for pollination and do not provide any viable pollen for other fruit trees, eg: Bramley.

Plums and damsons often do not need pollinators as there is enough blackthorn pollen around, but it is often worth planting more than one variety of tree if you can.

For pears plant more than one type or plant wild pear at the same time, except for ‘Conference' which is reputedly self fertile.

We generally only sell the self fertile cherries ‘Stella' and ‘Morello' along with Lapins but the same rules apply.


number 8 Pruning

Some pruning of fruit trees will be beneficial and the principles apply to most trees (except conifers). You want to:

(a) Avoid a tall dense tree like this where the fruit is small and impossible to pick:

tall apple tree

(b) Create a balanced tree, which avoids wind damage of laden branches

(c) Create a open structure which lets air and light into the tree promoting fruiting, increasing air circulation and maintaining health and vigour.


broken apple tree branch

(d) Thinning fruit blossom in a good year is also a good idea, to create similar overall volume of fruit but of fewer, larger and higher quality.

  • Pruning in the winter promotes vigorous new growth in the spring (you are therefore unlikely to irreparably damage a tree by pruning).
  • Pruning in the summer months reduces vigour and promotes fruiting the following year.
  • Only prune stone fruits (plum, damson and cherry etc) in the summer months, eg: after flowering.   They are susceptible to the ‘silverleaf' virus, which enters the tree in the winter through wounds and cuts.
  • Remove old and damaged wood and clean tools between trees.

To create an open centred tree with a new single leader tree most of what you need to know is in the following link to wikipedia:



number 9 Pests & Diseases

There is a good summary of this in the following link:http://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/problems_fruitveg.asp

DEFRA have also produced a very comprehensive guide to orchard pests and diseases. It is focussed on chemical control in commercial orchards and contains very good descriptions of the major issues. If you would like this emailed to you: Contact us.

Viruses can generally only be spread by propagation and all our rootstocks and graftwood are from virus free mother plants.

apple tree

morello on wall


2012 © The Old Chapel Nursery Ltd