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A young sapling

If you’d like to make Britain a little greener by planting your own tree or two, our forestry team has come up with some fantastic suggestions to suit a variety of gardens. Once you’ve determined which type of tree is likely to flourish in your own garden, follow our planting tips from Head Forester Stephen Coffey.

Trees wonderful trees…

Cherry tree: There’s nothing finer than the explosion of colour from cherry blossom in spring, and some species, but not all, give you lovely, juicy cherries, too. Best planted in well-drained soil in full sunlight.

Oak: Britain’s favourite can grow into huge trees, so ensure you give it plenty of space. It also prefers full sunlight, so pick an open spot with good soil.

Crab apple tree: Ideal for smaller gardens, the crab apple tree also produces a vivid blossom. The fruit drops in autumn and has many uses, both savoury and sweet. It’s also great for attracting birdlife.

Plum or damson tree: Again, perfect for smaller gardens, the plum tree produces wonderful fruit, and prefers well-drained soil and a sheltered, sunny position. There are many varieties, so research which suits your environment best.

Field maple: Fast growing, the field maple can grow as high as 20m and live for 350 years, so it should be given plenty of room. Likes sandy, loamy or heavy clay soil, and can be extremely picturesque in summer and autumn.

Wild service tree: A UK native broadleaf tree also known as the chequer tree, the wild service tree also needs plenty of space. A hardy species, it provides an oval fruit similar to a date.

A newly planted sapling

A step-by-step guide to planting a tree:

So, you’ve chosen your tree, but how do you give it the best possible start in life? Here, our Head Forester Stephen Coffey shares some trade secrets in a step-by-step guide to a simple pit-planting method:

  • We do the majority of our planting in the winter, when our one- or two-year-old bare-root saplings are dormant and can cope with being lifted from the nursery and moved.
  • Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the roots of the sapling and loosen the soil around the sides. Break up any large clumps of soil.
  • Carefully place the tree in the hole and check the depth. The collar line (the mark on the sapling just above the roots where the soil came to) should be level with the top of the soil.
  • Holding the sapling upright, fill the hole with soil and press it down onto the roots. It’s important not to compact the soil too much, but don’t be afraid of using your heel to ensure your tree is firmly in the ground.
  • Put grassy clumps grass side down on the bottom of the hole. By doing this, you create a weed-free area around the tree to lessen competition.
  • Your sapling should now be upright, resistant to a firm tug and have no roots showing above ground.
  • Finally, protect your tree from pesky wildlife with a guard if necessary, and use a cane or stake for extra support. Maintain a weed-free area of at least a 30cm radius around your tree for the first two years.

Happy Planting!