Prepare a Tree Nursery

How to care for a native tree nursery in your school from andreas Kornevall on Vimeo.

General information on how to care for your native tree nursery in your school, explained by Polly Wise from ERS (also a Thomas A Becket Middle School Learning Support Assistant and Eco-School’s Coordinator).

Take care when choosing a site for a tree nursery. As we are planting native trees they should withstand minor drought conditions, but if saplings stay over the summer, a nearby water supply would be helpful if it has been dry for many weeks, epsecially when the saplings are starting off.  The site should be well drained and not get overly waterlogged.  If you are in a rural school, a rabbit proof fence is a good idea, speak to us about this.

Many schools decide to plant their native trees into raised beds.  Ask your local building contractor if they can source wood for the raised beds, they should be able to help you nailing the boards together.   Avoid railway sleepers, they are filled with toxic chemicals which can be harmful.   The dimension of a tree nursery is typically one tree for every half metre.  Approximately your should calculate 50 trees for an area of 5m by 2m.  This will allow them to grow for a couple of seasons before they are outplanted into the community.



Plenty of spades – a wheel barrow can be very useful, rabbit fences and tree guards are provided with the delivery if requested.  For mulch, old manure should be mixed into the soil.  Straw is a recommended natural mulch as it keeps moisture in and protects from weeds and frost, making the nursery easier to maintain.  When the weeds grow through the old straw, new straw is added on top of the weeds in the spring.

Caring for the Nursery

Water regularly and maintain the nursery by checking for weeds, wind protection, water logging, and growth.

Where to Plant out

Public or private land is suitable –  please contact your local Council to ask about any appropriate areas of public land that could be used.  Finding land is a question of communicating between the schools, the local council, local tree wardens, parents; other conservation organisations in your area, and private landowners.  Please contact info at for further advice/details. (written like this to avoid spam).

Planting out the trees (source: The Tree Council)

Pit dimensions: Allow at least 15 to 20 cm around the root ball for the initial root growth

(Stake: Required if the tree is over 1.5m. Put stake in the pit before the tree. Place on downwind side. Stake should not be more than 1/3 height of the tree)

Backfilling: Gently shake the tree up and down to ensure a good root to soil contact.  Firm the soil gently with the sole of the foot, so that the roots are seated well into the surrounding soil.

Water the tree copiously – if necessary drench the soil with at least two litres of water for a small tree.  This is particularly important for those trees planted from pots in the spring/summer periods.

If trees are planted on a slope, make V shaped  ridges to catch rainwater, If possible, break up the hard rocky subsoil in the bottom of the hole and add a little manure-press down the soil firmly around the tree.

(Children tagging their own trees)