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Transferring a pot grown Olive Tree to the garden

Hi All,

I have a pot grown (and bound) olive tree, about 10 years old and straggly, but perhaps 5 foot high from the top of the pot. I want to transfer it to a permanent site in the ground . However, the site we have chosen  has been lawn for the last 30 odd years at least. We want to take up a circle of turf, maybe 4 foot in diameter, and plant the tree so it is  in the lawn if you get what I mean. The site is  south facing and sheltered, and the olive has lived permanently outdoors, unwrapped in winter with no ill effects for 7 years now, so is fairly robust.  We are in Kent.

What prep work do I need to do to the site to get it in the best possible condition for the olive?  Fertiliser? compost?  nothing?  How far should I dig down, or is this basically a bad idea, and the olive would be better off somewhere else.

Any ideas about how to prepare the olive for its new home?

Advice gratefully received!


  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,738

    Follow general advice on tree planting either from RHS or Tree site such as Ashridge  nurseries. The soil under turf will be reasonably fertile if rather compacted. The modern advice is to dig a square hole, twice the size of the rootball and to prick the sides & base with a fork. The theory is that roots can break out of the confines of the corners whereas in a round hole the roots will continue to go round. They suggest now that you do NOT enrich the soil too much or plant with "tree & shrub compost" as again this just keeps the roots in the hole & does not encourage them to venture out to seek food and water. That said I would add a a generous feed of Blood fish Bone, or better still something like Vitax Q4  to the soil that you are going to backfill with. DO tease out some of the roots if you can, Do soak the rootball  for at least an hour in a trug or something similar with dilute liquid seaweed in the water. Do stake the tree with a Low stake at an angle (to avoid the rootball) . Firm the backfill soil with your heel gradually filling the hole. Water really well.  Mulch on top after watering. Think about pruning in the dormant season if it is very straggly.

    Hope this helps

    AB Still learning

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,501

    What type of soil do yhave? I don't think olive trees would do very well in clay in our winters. I think waterlogged soil would be bad for them.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Hi Redwing,

    The soil in the rest of the garden has a lot of chalk in it, (great lumps of the stuff in places) and not much clay. It  was apparently   a fruit orchard for many years, planted with apples and plums. I'm not too worried about the type of soil,  but more concerned with  how to get it in the best condition with the right mix of nutrients for the olive to thrive.....

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