Tree Planting: Preparing and Planting a Scots Pine Tree by Charlie Noton

Our client asked us to screen a neighbouring new build which overlooked their summerhouse and pool. We needed a tree with significant spread that would fit with the general design of the garden and provide all year round screening. We found the perfect tree, a Scots Pine, in Belgium. This tree had added appeal for our client due to her Scots heritage! 6m-7m tall and 7m-8m wide, the width dimensions of the tree presented transport challenges and our 'convoy exceptionale' was escorted, front and rear, by the police. As you can see below, the tree does a successful job of screening the new build and our client can now enjoy the privacy of her garden with the added bonus of a shaded dining area.

Charlie Noton, Lead Consultant, Tree Research




The pine tree at the nursery before the move

The pine tree at the nursery before the move

Here is the tree at the nursery in Belgium. The tree was last transplanted two years ago. On arrival, we started the excavation to prepare the rootball of the pine tree. We then raised the pine tree, wire wrapped the rootball with wire and hessian and transported the tree to Oxfordshire for replanting. 

The time lapse video below shows the stages involved in moving and preparing the tree.

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” by Charlie Noton

We’ve been talking in the office recently about the Platipus guying systems for underground tree staking. Developed in 1983, their system has had a foothold in the market ever since..and with good reason. Greenleaf brought in Arborguy with a ratchet system and a more recycled option. Contractors love a purpose-built package that is easy to price for clients and has a good reputation. Plus high costs mean a higher mark up on supply and install. 

In many cases, it is the best system to use, however we have a few hang ups: The kit costs  a lot of money, including the driving bar to force the barbs in along with the other specialised kit that is normally required… an investment if you need to plant a few trees as a landscape company for a line off job. As well as this, we find the recycled heads of Arborguy can crack when being driven in, especially on flint or brash soils. On clay soils it is also hard to get the heads to lock out, as they end up sliding up and down when soil is wet - so neither system works well. 

We came across a great cost-effective system from a nursery in Holland a few years ago and have evolved the technique for our own specific site use. It’s simple: stakes are inserted with a digger or knocked in by hand tight against the root ball. As the straps are ratcheted tight, the tension pushes down on the rootball, drawing the whole configuration downwards and inwards, fixing it solid. 

It can be used in conjunction with overground supports if required in exposed areas at risk of severe wind rock. We’ve used this system on a large planting of 20-60cm girth parkland trees at Newnton House, without any overground support. The project was a great success and benefitted aesthetically from the lack of overground visual structures which was a priority for the design.

On rock, replace wooden stakes with pointed angle iron. Steel marquee pegs are more expensive but can be driven into solid rock.

We'd love your experiences of tree staking; overground and underground? Has anybody else come across alternative solutions?

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