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Plant Quality

Trees should only be bought from a recognised forest nursery and should be ordered well in advance of planting. The trees should have a strong fibrous root system, a straight stem and meet the size specifications as described in the afforestation grant approval.

Plant handling

Good plant handling is as important as plant quality. The bags of trees should be handled carefully and ideally the trees should be planted immediately. If stored, the bags should be kept upright in a shaded place or shed and planted as soon as possible.


Trees must be planted with care to provide the best conditions for successful establishment. The principles of good planting are:

  • Ensure the tree is planted upright
  • Plant tree to correct depth (i.e. root collar)
  • Carefully place roots into the soil by hand
  • Cover all roots with soil and firm in well

Planting season

The planting season normally runs from November to March when trees are dormant and can be safely planted as bare-rooted trees. The planting season can be extended by using plants from cold storage.

Tree spacing and stocking*

SpeciesNumber of trees required per hectarePlant spacing (metres)
Lodgepole pine (pure) 3100 1.8 x 1.8
All other conifers 2500 2.0 x 2.0
Alder 2500 2.0 x 2.0
Sycamore, other broadleaves 3300 2.0 x 1.5
Oak, Beech pure 3300 2.0 x 1.5
Oak, Beech with nurse mix 3300 2.0 x 1.5

 * since January 2011

Relevant publications