Posted: 29/01/2015 at 10:15
My way is much the same as Bekkie's.
Dig over the area where you want to plant the tree and dig in some bulky organic matter as you do it (this could be homemade garden compost or leaf mould or well rotted farmyard manure or well rotted horse muck or even an old bag or two of multi purpose compost).
Then dig a really nice big hole in this enriched soil and (as you plant the tree) sprinkle just a little of the fungi over the roots and the base of the hole. But the fungi is just an extra boost some of us like to use. It is good but definitely not essential.
Knock a tree stake in before filling the hole - (that way you won't push it through the rootball) and gently firm the soil around the roots with your boot as you're filling the hole.
Water well after planting and put a 3 - 4" layer of compost or leaf mould mulch over the soil to help retain moisture. You probably wont need to do much else with it for a while, but when it starts getting warmer and drier I would water it once a week for this first summer unless the soil is already clearly damp.
If you can't plant the tree in the ground straight away I would do the following:
If it it's in a pot it will be fine until you can put it in - just dont let it dry out or blow over
If it is bare root & you need to leave it more than a day or so I would either just dig a hole, bung it in & cover it over until you can do it properly (called heeling in - forget about the soiless compost bit)
Alternatively, if the ground is frozen or you are short of space, you could find a big plastic pot and pot the tree up in multi purpose compost & just look after it until planting conditions are more favourable (just think of it as a giant pot plant).
At a push you could soak the rootball for a couple of hours then wrap the roots in damp newspaper or old towels and place the root ball in a bin bag. This will keep it all damp ( but not saturated) - but, personally, I wouldn't want to keep a tree like that for more than a few days as there is a risk the roots could start to rot.
As Bekkie says - if you just dug a hole in the ground and stuck the tree in - it would probably grow away just fine. By improving the soil first you are simply giving it a head start.
Don't put it in the ground if the ground is frozen or covered in snow (quite possible where you are this weekend)
If that's the case I would pot it up & wait till the weather is a bit better.
Good luck. Don't worry about it too much - a tree is just a bigger plant. It wants to grow for you.