Growing trees in your garden

There’s not much I love more than being outside! And one of my favourite places to spend time is at the woods, in amongst some of the UK’s 1.39 million hectares of woodland area.

Trees play a huge role in the everyday lives of people and animals. They keep our air clean, provide us with renewable materials and offer food and shelter to all sorts of animals and insects.

But what if I told you that your garden could be just as much of a helpful haven as the local woods? Let me show you how to plant the trees we all need in your very own back garden.

Why should I grow trees in my garden?

Here are just seven reasons that trees are so important to the natural environment:

  • They produce oxygen to let us breathe
  • They remove carbon dioxide from the air to combat climate change
  • They trap nasty pollutants on their bark, leaves and roots
  • They offer us a place to walk and exercise
  • They provide food and shelter for animals and insects
  • They create shade to protect us in hot weather
  • They prevent rivers from flooding by soaking up rainwater

Which kinds of trees can I grow?

There are 46 (according to the Woodland Trust) tree species that are native to the UK. They each have their own preferred conditions, average growth and special qualities.

You might want to plant a certain tree just because you know it’s going to look amazing fully-grown. But different species can help change your garden in their own way, so let me help you choose which to plant!

Trees like Rowan, Hazel and Beech grow tasty berries and nuts for birds and insects to munch on, attracting wildlife to your garden. Alder trees provide a source of nectar and pollen to bees, and their seeds are eaten by beautiful goldfinch.

Silver Birch trees have amazing silvery-white bark and their leaves turn yellow and golden in autumn. They can add a very striking look to your garden as the weather turns colder and attract long-tailed tits and greenfinches in spring and summer.

If you have a smaller garden, you may want to plant an Elder tree. They only grow to around 10 metres tall, but can be kept down if you prune them regularly. What’s more, they grow elderberries which can be used for home cooking and are even eaten by small mammals such as bank voles.

How do I do it?

Tree planting season normally runs between November and March in the UK, so it’s a good idea to get your gardening gloves out in autumn and winter.

Most trees can be bought as a small tree that is ready to be placed into your garden soil. When you buy a small tree, keep it stored upright, sheltered from frost and wind and make sure you spray its roots with water if they begin to look dry.

First of all, you’ll need to choose where you’re going to plant your new tree. I recommend keeping it two metres away from other trees and removing grass and weeds right next to your planting spot so that your tree isn’t competing with nearby plants for water and nutrients.

Once you’ve chosen your tree’s new home, you’ll need to dig a square hole in the soil that’s big enough to fit your tree in. Place your tree in the hole and fill it with the soil you’ve just dug up, gently using your feet to firm up the soil around the tree so that no frost can get to it.

You’ll then want to support your tree with either a cane or tree stake suitable for the size of the tree. After that, you can wind a special tree spiral (you can buy these at most garden centres) around both the tree and the cane to keep small trees safe.

And that’s that! Take care of your tree by regularly watering it and it should start to shoot up – some trees grow up as quickly as one metre every year so chose your tree carefully. Visit the Woodland Trust website for a complete guide to planting trees.

For more information on growing trees, and to find extra resources that can help you become a gardening hero, visit the Woodland Trust website.