Garden Tree Guide

A tree is a valuable addition to your garden, increasing its beauty and providing shade and structure throughout the year, so choosing the right one for your garden is vitally important.

Trees are probably the most important structural element in any garden and are vital to create a delightful fully formed landscape. 

During the summer they offer beautiful foliage that dramatically changes colour in the autumn, and then elegant tracery adds interest to the winter months. But, in addition to these decorative qualities, trees provide shelter from winds, intense sunshine and abject weather to the benefit of both plants and people.

There's no doubt that trees encourage wildlife and birdsong into your garden, they can also create privacy and camouflage unsightly areas. If you are near a main road, traffic noise will be reduced and pollutants absorbed. it's also a fact that twenty trees will offset the pollution caused by one car driven for 60 miles. 

What Tree?

Subjective and objective decisions need to be made regarding the choice of tree, for example the appearance of a tree, its colour and texture are appealing visually but It's rate of growth, and ultimate shape and height, particularly in relation to the rest of the garden and house, are equally important considerations. 

A tree's function is another deciding factor, certain species will be better at, for example, providing seclusion, notably evergreens that offer the best year round screening.

Maybe most importantly, climate, soil and environment will play a major part in your tree selection. You need a species that grow best in your local type of soil, whether this is light, heavy, sandy or clay, acid or alkaline, as changing the make-up of soil for something as large as a tree is impractical. 

Climate differs from the cooler north to the warmer south, wetter west to drier east, and the salt laden environment of a seaside town is far different to an industrial Midlands city.

How To Buy And Plant A Tree

Trees are sold as bare-rooted or container grown, unless the ground is frozen, the former should be planted when dormant but the latter can be planted at any time of the year.

Container Grown Trees:

  • Keeping the tree in its pot, soak it in a tub of water for 20 minutes, then allow to drain.

  • Dig a whole twice the width of the pot and 10cm (4") deeper, where you intend the tree to go, and ensure the soil is weed free.

  • Mix some multi-purpose compost, well rotted manure or general fertilizer with the lifted soil and fill the bottom 7cm (3") of the hole with the mixture.

  • Remove the pot and place the tree in the centre of the hole.

  • Construct a low crossbar style stake and secure the trunk with a tree tie.

  • Refill the hole with the soil mixture and heel in well to keep the root ball secure.

  • Water well and keep the soil moist whilst your tree establishes its roots, this usually takes about a year.

Bare Rooted Trees:

  • Keep roots covered with sacking to preserve moisture

  • Dig the hole and mix some multi-purpose compost, well rotted manure or general fertilizer with the lifted soil 

  • Insert a substantial stake 

  • Plant the tree to its original depth and re-fill the hole, agitating the tree so the soil completely covers the roots

  • Firm the soil and tie to the stake 

  • Water and mulch with compost or manure

Maintaining A Tree

Trees need an annual dressing of fertilizer in late winter/early spring so that it has time to reach the developing roots and then a mulch of compost of manure in the autumn. At least for the initial few years, keep the ground around the free from competing vegetation.

Especially in the first few years, only occasional pruning is necessary for ornamental trees to remove dead or overcrowded branches. Each autumn check the ties are still intact and strong enough to withstand bad weather and they are not restricting the stem. When the root system is securely anchoring the tree to the ground, after perhaps two to three years, you can think about removing the stake.

Some Trees We Recommend

Acer (Japanese Maple)

A huge choice of varieties are available all with attractive foliage that changes colour with the seasons to decorate the garden with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows

Laburnum

Suits most soils with dark green leaves and bright yellow early summer flowers

Rowan (Mountain Ash)

Full of beautiful, and for the birds very tasty, red berries in the autumn that contrast wonderfully well with lovely dark green foliage.

Cherry

Non-fruiting cherry trees are grown for their magnificent spring blossom, perfect for an oriental themed garden

Birch

Notable for its bark that constantly peels away and catkins that appear in the spring

Cypress

Many different varieties of this evergreen can be useful for screening but some can grow very tall

Yew

Great for hedging and tolerant of most conditions, carries red berries in the autumn