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Cuttings & Trees

Helpful Information about how to plant rooted and unrooted trees

Rooted or Unrooted?

When deciding whether to plant rooted trees or which size cuttings will depend on various factors such as:

  • How easy a job do you want the planting to be

  • How well will you look after your trees after planting

  • Your soil type and site

  • How quickly you need results

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A 60 cm long (2 ft) Willow cutting before planting and examples 8 weeks after planting.


A 60 cm (2 ft) long Poplar cutting in May (8 weeks after planting)

Unrooted Cuttings

Unrooted cuttings are made with a slanting cut at the base and a straight cut at the top to make insertion into the ground more manageable and to distinguish the top from the bottom. They are also straightforward to plant and can be pushed into loose cultivated soil and firmed in. They will need no support. On firmer grounds, make a vertical slit with a spade, move the cutting to the bottom of the slit, and firm well by treading. Alternatively, a narrow hole can be made with a bar or spike, and the cutting is pushed to the bottom and firmed nicely. A mole-plough or subsoil blade may be pulled through the ground in rows, and the cuttings pushed into the loosened soil slit and set in by foot.

The smallest 30 cm (1 ft) cuttings must be planted so that only 5 cm (2 inches) shows above ground. This can make them vulnerable to being smothered by weeds and grass before they get away, so they are only suited to situations where they will receive a high standard of care in the early days. The 60 cm (2 ft) cuttings are planted so that half is in the soil, as in the photo below. This means that the new growth starts above weed and grass height. Being larger, they also contain more significant energy reserves and grow away faster. In most situations, the 60 cm long (2 ft) cuttings are the best option and will produce a tree, if looked after, of 180-240 cm (6-8 ft) high in the first growing season.

On dry sites such as sands and gravels or banks, we suggest you plant a longer cutting and insert a larger proportion into the soil. Both the Hybrid Willows and Poplars can make roots from any part of the stem and so, if planted deeply, will produce deep roots, which will always find moisture.

Cutting Size
Min. length to be inserted into the soil (pointed end down)
180 cm (6 ft)
60 cm (24 inches)
120 cm (4 ft)
45 cm (18 inches)
90 cm (3 ft)
37.5 cm (15 inches)
60 cm (2 ft)
30 cm (12 inches)
30 cm (1 ft)
25 cm (10 inches)

Bare Rooted Trees

As stated earlier, the Unrooted Hybrid Willows & Poplars will produce a tree of 180-240 cm (6-8 ft) high within the first season if kept relatively weed-free. The rooted trees will give you almost instant results. They are available bare-rooted up to 240 cm (8 feet) high. They will, however, require a hole to be dug approximately 25 cm wide by 40 cm deep (9 inches wide by 15 inches deep) and the support of a cane or stake until they are established. We always suggest that the rooted willows are pruned back to knee height after planting to avoid the need to stake them and make them grow bushier.

It is worth repeating that for easy planting and economy, the 60 cm long (2 ft) cuttings are the best option in most circumstances. The rooted trees and longer cuttings will cope better with challenging conditions and weed or grass competition to give instantly visible results.


A Visual Guide to Tree Size


Planting Information

On arrival, you should try to plant your trees or cuttings as soon as possible, but if the weather or time makes this impossible, your cuttings will remain viable somewhere cold for four weeks. A cold shed or outside is fine but if the weather turns warm, put them into a fridge. If you cannot plant the rooted trees within ten days of arrival, we suggest you unpack the bale and cover the roots with soil in a shallow trench to keep them moist.


It is essential to look after your trees as they mature, so now click on After-Planting Care for some valuable guidelines.

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