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New trees - root rock? What can I do?

I need some advice please, I planted these two large Scots pines at the end of our garden, really pleased with the trees however I’ve noticed that the trunks at the bottom are rocking slightly and a small crater has opened up (see photos). 

The root balls aren’t moving at all and weighed a ton but the base of the trees move If rocked by wind and aren’t solid yet.

My question is will this rectify itself now the trees are in the ground? They had been neglected in the nursery for a few years and the pots had fallen over and left. I have this morning staked the them both low down to stop the base moving too much, how long should I keep them in place and what are the chances that they will root properly and firm up?

Ive planted lots of the trees in the past and ive seen the root balls move but not the actual trunks.

any advice would be appreciated on what I could do to help them survive.


  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,615
    They look to be quite quite close to each other which might become a future problem. You have done the right thing by staking but check that the straps don't get too tight. I would suggest removing more of the grass around the base to about the width of the canopy. Then mulch and keep up the watering.

    I imagine that they were fairly rootbound having been neglected previously. The usual advice is to loosen up the rootball before planting but that isn't so easy with larger trees.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,907
    Just keep watering. It's all you can do. Don't underestimate how much they need either - a good couple of buckets every day or two. 
    I'd agree with @steephill too , about clearing a bit more of the grass away. They'll need all the moisture they can get at this stage,and grass is just competition. 
    They are very close. If both survive - they easily get to fifty, sixty feet over time, and then keep going..... ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks for your advice, I’ve just been out and cut out larger circles around the base so they have less competition from the grass. 

    I also scraped back the soil from around the base and it looked to me like they had been planted too deep in their pots (red Mark is the previous soil level on the trunk); I discovered old rootball wires about 5cm under so they must have been rootballs that didn’t sell, were potted on and subsequently abandoned at the back of the nursery. Now I’ve removed the excess soil it doesn’t look as bad, the crater was in the excess soil on top and doesn’t go any further. 

    They both seem to have lots of new candles coming so I assume they are reasonably happy as they are growing. I just hope the trunks thicken up and root down well. How long should I leave the stakes on and what do you suggest I mulch with?


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