Introducing a new tree or shrub into your garden is an exciting process, but it’s worth making sure you’ve got the right tools for the job before you get started. We’ve listed the equipment and supplies you’ll need if you’re going to give your new plants the best start, and some of our favourite products.


Don’t miss our full guide on how to plant trees for more guidance.

Tree planting tools

Tree planting spade

Bulldog Tree Planting Spade on a grey background

A slim, curved spade is the perfect choice when digging holes for trees. The best ones make it easy to cut through compacted soil, so look out for designs with solid steel heads and foot treads, like this option from Bulldog.

As a brand, Bulldog has been around since the 18th century, so it’s got plenty of experience crafting high-quality garden tools.

This tree-planting spade has earned lots of impressive reviews and should help you get the job done without much hassle. Thanks to the slim head, it’s also ideal for working in confined areas, so it could come in handy for other gardening jobs too.

Find more sturdy designs in our guide to the best garden spades and shovels.

Pot or container

Garden Trading Galvanised Steel Bucket on a grey background

If you’re starting off saplings, working with limited space or just want to display some smart pots by your front door, you’ll need a container like this one.

We love the simple aesthetic of the galvanised steel with its subtle ridged detailing at the top. Plus, the strong metal handles could come in handy if you decide to move your tree in the future. Just remember to drill some holes in the bottom for drainage.

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Choose between the small (39cm diameter) and the large (41cm diameter) size.

Looking for more garden must-haves? Check out our roundup of the best garden trugs!

Gardening gloves

Burgon & Ball Gardening Gloves on a grey background

Don’t forget to make sure you’ve got a good pair of gardening gloves ready before you start planting trees and shrubs. Not only will they protect your hands when handling rough and prickly trees; they’ll also provide a bit of extra grip.

Thanks to their durability and attractive design details, these gardening gloves are a real favourite for us. They come in a variety of colours and patterns, all with padded palms and adjustable wristbands.

Plus, the fabric over the top of the hands is stretchy for added comfort.

See our full list of favourites for more smart gardening gloves.

Tall boots

Muck Boots Arctic Sport II boots on a grey background

The best time to plant trees is between November and March when they’re dormant, so you’ll need some durable boots if you’re going to avoid getting wet and muddy.

As its name suggests, the well-known brand Muck Boots has created a line of heavy-duty footwear especially designed to withstand tough conditions. These boots come with a rubber outer, which extends up the calf. There’s a comfy lining to keep you warm, a grippy sole and a dual density EVA footbed for proper support.

If you’re looking for footwear to take you through the seasons, why not read our full list of favourite gardening shoes for outdoor tasks?

Watering can

Haws traditional watering can on a grey background

A large watering can will come in handy when you’re nurturing trees and shrubs in their early stages. We’d always avoid plastic by opting for a metal design, which will stand up to knocks and scrapes without cracking.

This one is made from strong pre-galvanised steel, so it should have a place in your shed for a long time. It can hold nine litres of water, and has a removable brass rose.

You could alternatively buy the same watering can with a long-reach spout.

Not quite right? See our full round-up of the best watering cans to buy.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal Fungi tubs on a grey background

Mycorrhizal fungi can significantly increase the amount of moisture and nutrients a plant absorbs. It latches onto its roots and rapidly grows outwards, finding more goodness in the soil and passing it onto the plant.

Just dip the roots in the mycorrhizal fungi before you plant your trees and shrubs and it’ll continue growing and supporting the plants forever.

This tub from Rootgrow has a good average review score from previous customers.

Biodegradable mulch mats

Biodegradable mulch mats on a grey background

Mulch mats are a useful extra to have close at hand to protect trees and shrubs as they develop. They’ll protect against frost, and stop weeds and grass growing around the base. Plus, they’ll keep moisture in the soil underneath, which reduces the amount of watering you’ll have to do.

Over time, the mulch mat will gradually biodegrade, providing nutrients to the roots underneath.

These tree mats are made with 100% natural jute and come from an eco-conscious company based just outside of the Lake District.

Alternatively, you could add loose mulch around the base of the tree - be sure to use peat-free, organic products if possible, like RocketGro.

Plant markers and pen

Zinc Plant Markers and Pen on a grey background

Metal plant markers are a fantastic choice if you want to keep track of a tree’s genus and species. They’ll survive exposure to the elements and they’ll look smart too.

We’ve chosen these stake markers from Sarah Raven for our list. They’re made from galvanised steel coated with zinc and you’ll get six in a pack. They also come with a waterproof marker, so they’re a convenient option.

Find lots more stylish plant labels and markers for your garden in our round-up.

Biodegradable tree guards

Biodegradable tree guards and canes on a grey background

If you think your tree or shrub might fall prey to hungry garden visitors, it’s worth protecting it with a guard. If you don’t want to install a permanent metal surround, a biodegradable spiral design is a sensible choice.

These ones are designed to stop curious animals like deer and rabbits from sampling young plants. They’ll fit easily over most saplings, and will start to biodegrade after three years. They come with wooden canes too, for giving new plants extra stability.

We’ve listed several alternatives in our guide to the best tree guards for protecting newly planted trees.


Burgon & Ball National Trust Secateurs on a grey background

A good pair of secateurs will make your life easier when it comes to pruning your trees and shrubs. This pair is part of a collaboration between the National Trust and the iconic gardening brand Burgon & Ball, so you can rest assured it’s a quality product.

It’s made with steel and finished with brass rivets for a classic look. As an added bonus, you can get it personally engraved and it arrives in a smart gift box, so it would make a thoughtful gift for fellow gardeners too.

We’ve listed the best secateurs to buy in our handy guide.

For similar items, take a look at our edit of the best tools for pruning, the best pruning saws, and the best telescopic pruners for hard-to-reach spots.

Reusable garden ties

VELCRO One-Wrap Reuseable Garden Ties on a grey background

Reusable Velcro tape can be a fantastic alternative to plastic garden ties when it comes to securing trees and shrubs around the garden. Not only is it wide enough to avoid damaging stems and bark, but it has a long lifespan, able to be used again and again. Plus, it’s made from 65% recycled plastic.

This Velcro comes in a single roll, which you can cut to the required length. Once you’ve wrapped a section around the stem, it should stay put, even during windy weather. Then, adjusting it is simple.

Velcro tape is also a handy item to keep in the shed, as you can use it for a myriad of different uses.

Learn how to train apple trees and fruit trees in our guides to the art of espalier.

Flexible tape measure

Person holding round tape measure on a grey background

A tape measure could come in handy when planting trees. Use it to measure the hole for the root ball - it should be three times as wide as the pot. You could also use it to check the girth of the trunk before adding tree guards as it grows.


This 1.5m tape displays both inches and centimetres, and comes in a soft PU leather case to keep it tidy in your toolbox. It’s only 7cm across, so you can easily slip it into your coat pocket when pottering in the garden.


Daisy Bowie-Sell is digital editor of Gardens Illustrated. She has previously worked as a journalist for publications including the Daily Telegraph, WhatsOnStage and Time Out London

Alice TufferyDigital Writer

Alice is a digital writer with a knack for tracking down the most innovative and exciting products to hit the market. Working across several of Our Media's special interest brands, she's written for publications including Countryfile, Gardens Illustrated and Science Focus. Outside of work - and lusting over homeware and gardening products - you’ll find her rambling in the great outdoors or watching an old film.