The Gardening Year for Trees


In early spring, cut out any dead, diseased, and damaged wood. Prune the roots of any established trees that are growing too vigorously. Any formative pruning should be carried out in early to mid-spring, along with pollarding and coppicing of trees that are grown for summer foliage or winter stems, such as Chinese cedar (Toona sinensis 'Flamingo') or red-stemmed willow (Salix alba subsp. vitellina 'Britzensis').

Plant container-grown, bare-rooted or root-balled trees in early to late spring (as soon as weather conditions permit), and ensure that they are well watered. Feed all trees and apply a layer of mulch spread over an area about 30-45 cm (12- 18 in) larger than the tree's root system. Check stakes and ties and adjust where necessary.

In mid-spring, carry out any renovation of evergreen hedges and trees and start to clip topiary to maintain their shape.

Propagation of trees may be carried out in the spring by taking softwood cuttings, air layering or simple layering.


In early summer, prune spring-flowering trees that flower on old wood, so that there is plenty of light to ripen the growths made during the summer. Deciduous trees such as horse chestnuts (Aesculus), birches (Betula), cherries (Prunus) and maples (Acer) that 'bleed' heavily should be pruned in mid-summer after new growth has matured. Prune mature, pleached trees in mid-summer and young, pleached trees in late summer. Remove diseased or dead branches from evergreens and clip topiary as necessary.

Container-grown trees may be planted during any part of summer, as long as conditions are not too hot or dry. Water, feed and mulch newly planted trees well.

Propagation may be carried out by chip-budding in mid-summer or semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.


Container-grown trees may be planted at any time during autumn; bare-root and root-balled trees may be planted in prepared ground from mid-autumn onwards. Evergreen and deciduous trees may be transplanted to other parts of the garden; however, wait until deciduous trees have lost their leaves before moving.

Organic fertilizers such as compost or well-rotted manure can be applied as a mulch in autumn. This should spread 5-8 cm (2-3 in) deep around the tree, keeping the area around the trunk clear. The mulch should extend 3-4 m (10-12 ft) in diameter around large, established trees, and to the drip line for young trees.

Take semi-ripe cuttings in early to mid-autumn for propagation, or hardwood cuttings in late autumn.


Container-grown, bare-root and root-balled trees may be planted throughout the winter season, as long as the soil is not waterlogged or frozen. Evergreens and deciduous trees may be transplanted elsewhere in the garden.

In early winter, carry out formative pruning and renovation of deciduous trees and hedges. Cut away any dead, diseased and damaged wood. Coppicing or pollarding trees may be carried out from late winter onwards.

Consider providing tender trees with insulation and evergreens with protection against drying winds or damaging snow. Find out how here ...

Propagation may be carried out using hardwood cuttings; alternatively, apical wedge, saddle and side-veneer grafting may be undertaken.