Plant a tree


Plant a tree in your school grounds and watch it grow over the years.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Late Autumn, Early Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): PSHE

Learning objectives

  • Select from and use a range of specialist tools
  • Enhance the school environment and learn to care for plants


Water containerised trees well beforehand. This will make it easier to remove the tree from the pot.

Ensure that the tree will be protected from rabbit or deer damage in your school garden. You may need to use a rabbit or deer guard to protect the main stems of the tree.


  • Fruit or ornamental tree of choice
  • Spade, fork, secateurs, string, gloves
  • Tree stake and tie
  • Mallet hammer
  • Hard hat
  • Watering cans
  • Bamboo cane or stick longer than 1m

Step by step

  1. Mark out a planting hole, 1 metre in diameter and dig around the perimeter of the circle. Carefully remove the turf to a depth of 5cm.
  2. Dig a square hole inside the circle, deep enough so that the soil level of the tree in the pot matches the ground level once the hole is filled in. Check the level by placing the pot in the middle and use a bamboo cane, or stick from one side of the hole to the other.
  3. Create a slightly raised area in the middle - a ‘pedestal’ for the root ball to sit on. This prevents the tree from sitting in water and the roots rotting.
  4. Fork the edges and base of the hole to loosen the soil for the roots to break through more easily. Gently remove the tree from its container or fabric wrapping. Then carefully tease the roots out from the root ball to encourage growth.
  5. Backfill the hole, firming the ground by treading on the soil. Water the tree thoroughly. If the soil level drops, add more soil and firm again. 
  6. Hammer a tree stake at a 45 degree angle against the prevailing wind. Use a tree tie with an expander to secure the tree firmly to it.
  7. As the tree grows loosen the tie expander to prevent ring-barking. If rabbit and deer gaurds have been used to protect the tree from damage then also remove or expand these as the tree grows. This will protect from unwanted damage or disease, keeping the tree healthy. 

Hints & tips

  • Try not to leave the tree outside of its original container for very long. The sun and wind could dry out and damage the roots.
  • Use secateurs to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased growth on the tree.

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