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Friday, February 26, 2021

Trees in time for Christmas

Well, here we are in the middle of spring and we’ve had a little rain, whetting gardeners’ appetites to plant.

The request I receive the most at this time of year, with summer in mind, is for trees for shade. 

A reminder though, if a tree grows 10 metres high, it should be planted 10 metres from the house. 

A broad definition in the difference between trees and shrubs is that shrubs are generally lower than three metres high, shooting from the ground without developing a trunk.

It is wise before purchasing new trees to find out its mature height and width. Try to visualise what the tree will look like when it is fully grown, check where the shadow will fall and most importantly, will the fully grown tree interfere with overhead power lines?

I believe Ausgrid will serve a notice if a tree is going to encroach on power to your home and ask for it to be pruned.

Take care with soil preparation, it should be well drained, do not plant in clay – prepare before planting with a liquid clay breaker, using a good garden soil for planting. 

Dig the hole twice the depth it was in the container, leaving it wide enough to leave space inside the excavation so the roots can spread out. Place a sturdy supporting stake in the hole before the tree is planted.

Let’s consider some smaller growing trees which are ideal for suburban gardens: Wattles are perfect, particularly where quick growth is required, for example the Cootamundra Wattle which grows from three to almost four metres.

Many Banksias are also ideal for smaller gardens, as is the NSW Christmas Bush. This pretty native is available now and is much sought-after at Christmas.

My favourite tree is “Teddy Bear”, it is the relative of Magnolia Little Gem, both of which are evergreen with large glossy leaves, bearing large white blooms.

Part of their charm being the unusual brown shading under the large green leaves.


  • Dig in cow manure and an all-purpose fertiliser to prepare beds for Christmas planting – wait one week before doing so.
  • Check camellias for scale which will be found on the underside of the leaves – spray with Malathon and white oil.
  • It is time to boost houseplants with a liquid fertiliser such as Green Flourish.