Tree planting help

Tree planting help is for those wanting shade or fruit in their garden; or simply beauty. It's fun.

Trees add so much to any and every garden; but your choice must be wisely made. Perhaps it is for shade from the hot summer sun, but will it also make you too cold in the winter? Would a deciduous-plant that loses its leaves be the solution.

The first tree I would plant in any and every garden is a lemon but, of course, in Chicago it would have to go into a pot; for the beautiful golden fruit, the exquisitely-scented blossom and what the fresh juice does for any salad. It is top of the pops for me.

Perhaps you are planning a tree planting memorial, and the spot you've chosen is in the middle of an existing lawn. Where you can enjoy fond memories of a loved-one every day.

The yellowwood tree is the memorial where my mother's ashes are planted.

Tree planting memorial

Just beyond the swimming pool is where we have our Family Tree. My mum and a dear friend's ashes are buried in the roots of this yellowwood[1]. I fancy them peeping out at me between the leaves. All the world's a bit queer, bar thee and me; and I am not so sure about you.

In fact I'm rather hoping that is where my own ashes will end up. Of course one day the house will be sold to another; so be it.

Planting a tree is one of the altruistic things we can do; benefits for ourselves in the short term if we stay long enough but many years of pleasure and food perhaps for another.

Some family planted this garden a hundred or more years ago, and we have been greatly blessed by all the hard work they put into it.

Can you see the pair of famed Hadeda ibises hooking up crickets and earthworms out of the lawn?

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 13th March, 2022.

Clear the jungle

But perhaps you have to clear the jungle before planting an avocado tree, as I had to do. It is hard work; and there will be considerable burning of the brush. Any half-rotten sticks will be carefully garnished for the pit we are about to dig; or for composting along with garden refuse. The alternative is an inorganic fertiliser.

This page may give you some ideas for the larger garden and a Compact Compost Tumbler.

Tree planting may start with clearing the bush and making a compost heap.

Tree planting help

Tree planting help suggests giving an avocado sapling for Christmas or a yellowwood for a memorial to a loved one.

Clearing the invader species trees, and much as I hate it burning the trash was necessary before we could plant fruit trees.

Having cleared the ground, plan where you want to set your sapling. Your tree planting instructions are as follow.

  1. Keep in mind not the tiny seedling but imagine a full-grown tree, bearing fruit or flowers.
  2. Not where it will shade your home in the winter.
  3. Not too close to your neighbour's boundary unless you come to an agreement to share the fruit.
  4. Not where it will shade your vegetable garden or the solar panels.
  5. Another smaller, slow-growing special tree, like that yellowwood might be preferable. The one above is thirty years old and less than seven metres tall.

It is of course impossible to think decades into the future; having made the decision to build a solar generator on our roof, this Tulip tree may have to be topped. I am sad because it is nearly a hundred years old and very majestic; but in the winter months, when the sun courses much lower over the horizon, it shades our photovoltaic panels.

Going green, planting trees and harvesting rainwater have been the most rewarding aspects of our retirement; building a solar farm too.

But lopping the top off this old friend is not going to be easy; right now the decision is on hold. Eventually we decided to simply put up more panels on the west-facing roof; actually it was cheaper than having it felled. 

This tulip tree shades the solar panels but is far too special to remove for planting fruit trees.

Tree planting instructions

So with plenty aforethought from your friendly tree planting help, mark out the spot, about a metre square; three feet.

And keep in mind, that it will be one metre deep.

Tree planting tools

All you need is a good sharp spade, and a wheelbarrow to bring in the compost; oh, and a strong back. More about that later. 

This guide to tree planting recommends a hole a metre deep filled with compost.

You are about to put your body through some pain thresholds, though the mind will be invigorated and the spirit refreshed. So keep in mind why you are doing this to yourself; the fruit that is to come. Are you planting avocado trees, as I am? Think of the blessings that will be yours in a year or three.

Are you planting evergreens? They provide year-round beauty.

Now you are going to bend your back. This pit will be a metre cube; a garden-spade wide, by the same deep.

Why must it be square? Your seedling will almost certainly have come in a round bag, with roots in a spiral. For maximum growth your tree planting guide says you have to persuade your baby to get out of that limited circular thinking; just as we should. The bigger picture is more difficult to see when we are blinkered.

Planting avocado trees

Planting an avocado tree does require some help; type A, or B, or both?

Having marked out your pit for planting the sapling, or whatever you have in mind, start by removing the topsoil, placing it on one side of the hole. You will probably encounter plenty of roots, small rocks and stones.

There were other surprises for me. Someone else has been gardening right here, probably a century past; it was laid out many years ago going by the size of the azaleas, the Liquidambar and that tulip tree.

Tree planting tools.

Tree Planting Help

Top soil is piled on one side.

Tree planting help separates the top from the subsoil.

And the subsoil on the other.

Tree planting help recommends keeping the subsoil separate.

About 20 to 30 cm down you will strike the subsoil. The colour and texture will be quite different. This is the part of the hole that you will have to enrich with compost, half-rotten branches and leaves. It is deficient in nutrients and is much more compact; hard for the new young roots. It's also more difficult obviously to dig out.

Suddenly I hit something hard and metallic; an old spade. The going is now much harder in this clay, and it serves as a reminder to be kind to my tools. I do not want to break off my implement like that long-forgotten gardener's instrument. I wonder who that was? Thank you, friend, your efforts were not in vain, and not forgotten, despite years of neglect in this jungle during the interim. We will get it back to its former splendour.

Can you see the old broken-off spade?

Tree planting guide says look out for some old treasures in that hole you are digging.

The going gets harder says your tree-planting elf.

Going deeper into the clay so you can plant your tree and give it a good start.

The clay is now very compact; it is hard to dig and there is very limited room in the hole for me. It is heavy to spade out and, dangerously, it starts to stick to the blade. When throwing the clay the unexpected extra weight gives a nasty jerk to the shoulders and lower neck.

See how the subsoil sticks to the spade? Careful or you may get a clay-shovellers' fracture.

Clay-shovellers' fracture

Apparently in days of yore, clay shovellers would regularly have a fractured spinous-process of C7 when a pat unexpectedly stuck to the shovel; your tree planting help guide warns you to be careful not to do yourself a mischief.

It still occurs in trauma, but in itself is not very significant. It can cause instability of course because of the affect on a powerful ligament that runs between the spinous processes, maintaining the so-called lordosis. This view was taken in extension, so it is impossible to gauge the curves.

X-ray of a clay-shovellers' fracture in the cervical spine; can happen to tree planters if you are not careful.

Your Tree Planting Help reminds you that the end is in sight. The last spadefuls are a devil, and I am beginning to feel it in the small of the back. Fortunately, I have another DC living in our home; my daughter. But I did my lumbar spine exercises faithfully this morning so all things being equal I will be fine; just a bit achy.

Here are Bernie Preston's lower back exercises on YouTube.

Nearing the end of the pit for planting your tree.

This clay is very dense and difficult for the young roots to penetrate. So go the extra mile; until the handle of the spade is below the level of the ground.

You want your tree to be firmly rooted and not fall over in a storm because you did not dig quite deep enough. It is worth the extra effort; and a few visits to your DC if need be.

Seriously next day my back was fine, but then I walk and cycle and do my lower back exercises every single day. I never miss. I am a big baby, and I do not like pain. I would rather do a couple minutes of warmups every morning, and have a regular, occasional maintenance adjustment. Sitting at this computer and in the car, and giving a lumbar roll is what is hard on my back, not planting trees and shrubs.

Plenty of rough compost before planting your tree.

Now for the compost and small decayed branches.

Take it from Tree Planting Help, this is the easy part and should not take long. Just fill in your hole about half way up with dead leaves, twigs and branches, well-rotted manure and humujs; the more decomposed the better because not much aerobic fermentation will occur two feet down.

Of interest is that there is more carbon sequestered in the top metre of earth than in the whole of the atmosphere. Plants can capture it and then by putting all this matter in your hole you are helping to lower the CO2 in the air[2]. You are contributing to a greener planet.

Old sticks keep the ground porous for the tree roots after planting.


Then cover your compost material with the sub-soil, perhaps add more compost and then if you have it, I would add a couple shovelfuls of ash; ours was left over from burning back the jungle. It is rich in minerals but certainly it is not essential. If you are not fanatical about organic, like I am, then chuck in some fertilizer.

Our woodstove now provides a regular source of ash for our trees and plants, and so also goes into the worm farms to lessen the acidity of the kitchen waste that we feed them on.

On that note, kitchen waste always goes to the worm farm first before being used for humus.

More ash before planting your avocado tree.

First the subsoil goes in.

Twit, I omitted to take a photo, but first replace the sub-soil and then above it the top earth. Mound it up about 6 inches above the ground, as it will soon settle.

The hole for planting your tree is complete.


If everybody starts doing my lower back exercises and walking to the store instead of getting in the car, and eating our famous authentic hummus recipe and chicken bones stock which is wonderful for hard, smooth cartilage, and I find myself without a job, I could always be a gravedigger.

Fortunately there are still horses and vacuum-cleaners, motor cars and staircases to keep me in business; they provide a steady income for the skilled adjustor, so I'm not fearful of being unemployed.

Those poles are to shade the young tree from the fierce African sun, and protect it against the first few winter frosts.

Growing Avocado Trees

Send granny out to plant the avocado tree with help from the grandchildren.

Tree planting help

Avocados are very high on my agenda. The oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fats, the good stuff that coats all your nerves.

But avocados bear in alternate years. So this devious manipulative husband gave the good wife a tree for Christmas. What is the rationale? It is good for her nerves too.

Using your trusty tree planting implement, then spade dig out a small hole in the centre of your mound. Peel off the bag in which your sapling came, sacrifice it, trying not to disturb the roots, and carefully slide it into the little crater. Get the height of the soil in the bag the same as that of the surrounding earth. Tread it down firmly and pour a couple buckets of water over it.

Where is our water? It is an important question and not just for tree planting help; you will find plenty at this site about harvesting and storing the rain. I drink it without reservation; when you have read about the dangers of post chlorination you would too.

Three or four years and we will have our first avocados.

GROWING AVOCADO TREES is so rewarding; our seedling is now seven years old and we are enjoying over 200 fruit this autumn.

One year later you can see the lush growth on our Pinkerton; that is what digging a proper hole, and filling it with the the right goodies will do for your tree. Next spring we will have even more flowers.

Growing a Pinkerton avocado tree.

And here she is at three years; about fifty fruit have set, but were knocked off by hail. See the fennel in the foreground; enjoy as wide a variety of fruit and vegetables as you can.

The Pinkerton avocado tree at 3 years.

Plant a lemon tree

Could you use a little tree planting help when planning to find a spot for a lemon?

Growing lemon trees is so rewarding for the fruit and deeply scented flowers.

The improved Meyer lemon makes the most beautiful decorative tree, the scent of the flowers is simply divine in the spring, and the juice is a must in every kitchen.

GROWING LEMON TREES should be the first chore when moving into a new home.

The mandarin orange tree is a delight in every garden too.

We have fresh fruit all year round; growing a mountain of food in our own garden is our mission[3].

Forest bathing

Forest bathing is a treat that all tree-huggers should consider.

You don't even need a forest; the garden will do every bit as well.

Trees for bees

Beehives in the autumn need trees for nectar.

All this flowering fruit mentioned above provides nectar for honey. In addition it is wonderful to plant indigenous trees for bees.

Pollarding old trees

Saving old trees by pollarding them is an option. They get old and trunks start crashing to the ground or they may begin to endanger other structures nearby; or even your own home.

Pollarded old Liquid Amber tree

Low back pain

When do you rush off to the doctor or your DC if you are suffering from low back pain? Or should one wait a few days and see how things progress? It is a hard-call, frankly. Tree planting demands you first start with some exercises, and do not even attempt the task if you instinctively know it is beyond your limits.

There is an epidemic of lower back pain in the Western world, probably in the main because we sit too much, and eat highly-refined food.

If you have pain in the chest, do not wait. You might be dead in an hour. Likewise, if you know you have done your back a real mischief then it is best to get a diagnosis and the appropriate treatment sooner, rather than later.

A saw a lady this morning for her third consultation. She is 80 percent better. Five days ago she had a sharp stab in her low back which passed after 2 to 3 minutes.

The next day she was vacuuming and the sharp stab did not pass. She was crippled with pain and in her own words, she knew she had done something.


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself and Mother Earth for future generations; and your family too, of course. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

Here are the back issues.

  • Lifestyle and ideal body weight
  • What are ultra-processed foods?
  • Investing in long-term health
  • Diseases from plastic exposure
  • Intensive lifestyle management for obesity has limited value
  • A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease
  • The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer
  • There's a hole in the bucket
  • Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs
  • Pull the sweet tooth
  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

She arrived two hours later in severe pain, unable to drive, and having difficulty walking. All the orthopaedic tests pointed to a lumbar disc herniation at the lowest level. The slump-test was strongly positive. There was no tingling or numbness in her leg; not yet, that is. Six months ago she had a bad sciatica for more than just a few weeks after medication alone for treatment.

Within twenty-four hours, after the first treatment, she felt 40-percent better. Today at 80, and she could bend without pain, and the Slump test was negative; miracles we do at once but the impossible usually takes a little longer.

Reducing a herniated disc before the swelling and inflammation sets in, usually means that nothing much comes of it. We have started with the rehabilitation exercises, and she understands that despite having little pain, she will have to be sensible for six-weeks.

She will need to get some tree planting help from someone with a stronger back.

Two weeks previously, her sister's horse fell on her, smashing her pelvis.

Getting out of bed is dangerous but horses and vacuum cleaners are public-enemies numbers one and two; and forget not there is a rail running down next to the staircase. It is there for a very good reason.

Obviously MAKING A COMPOST PILE is important so you will have plenty to go in the hole will provide you with more and better-quality organic fruit.

When browsing use right click and Open Link in New Tab, or you may get a bad gateway signal.

Did you find this page interesting? How about forwarding it to a friendly book or food junkie? Better still, a social media tick would help.


56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa