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HOW TO MAKE - a woodland-edge habitat

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Whether you have a patch the size of a single garage to plant trees, or half-an acre or more, it helps to know how to choose and blend tree species.

This is especially true if you are planting for wildlife. Trees have widely ranging wildlife-qualities, and widely differing growth rates.


To make the point - an Oak takes 40 years on average, from seedling to producing its first Acorns. Plant a Goat Willow or Alder, and it will reach the same height in 5 years!


However, Oak is top of the league table for associated insect and lichen species - the standard mark of 'wildlife qualities'.

Some trees are fairly barren by comparison, but ALL native trees sourced through us (and you can have any variety - or seek our advice on a mix), are better for wildlife ecosystems, than ornamental trees.


SO WHAT DO WE RECOMMEND?


It is easiest to decide if you are a 5 year, 10 year, or 20 year+ kind of customer. If you want quick impact and growth, you are the former. If you are planting a garden for life, you are the latter.


Of course, you also might be a 1 year customer, and want instant woodland with trees of 10ft (3.5m). We don't sell these, they establish less well than slightly smaller 'juveniles' (indeed, they are often over-taken by their younger cousins). Most of all because they cost at least £25 each, more like £50.


5 year customers

Choose 3 year-old trees at 5ft/1.5m, of the following varieties:

  • Silver Birch

  • Alder

  • Mountain Ash (Rowan)

  • Goat Willow

  • Hazel

Then interplant with a shrub layer for maximum wildlife benefit, to include the following 2 year-old shrubs at 3ft/1m:


  • Sloe

  • Dog Rose

  • Hawthorn

  • Dogwood

  • Guelder Rose

This will reach the following heights, in favourable conditions: We assume that you are 5 ft 5 inches tall (1.65m). Years...

  1. At the end of autumn year 1 - just below eye- level height

  2. At the end of autumn year 2 - just above the top of your head

  3. At the end of autumn year 3 - as tall as your raised arm


  4. At the end of autumn year 5 - twice your height, possibly taller

10 year customers

You can additionally choose from the following trees at 5ft/1.5m:

  • Beech

  • Ash

  • Lime

Over 10 years, the full mix of trees described so far would reach the following heights, in favourable conditions: Years...


7. At the end of autumn year 7 - Bungalow roof-height

10. At the end of autumn year 10 - Level with upstairs windows on most houses


20 year customers

You can additionally choose from the following trees at 5ft/1.5m:

  • Oak

  • Hornbeam

  • Elm

Over 20 years, the full mix of trees described so far would reach the following heights, in favourable conditions: Years...


15. By year 15 - Above two story building height

20. By year 20 - the largest trees will be 12m / 36ft tall


HOW MANY TREES AND SHRUBS?


Medium density is best for wildlife. In our experience, that means trees can be planted as closely as 3m/10ft apart. Shrubs even closer to create a 'thicket' effect.

Use something to mark where you'd put each tree, and use this distance to calculate what you can have. The larger the plot, the wider apart the trees should be spaced, up to 10m/30ft apart on plots of significant size. Likewise, the more quickly you want a 'woodland' look, the closer together you should plant.


We do professional tree planting, with tree-guards if required, for a very reasonable additional rate.



Hope that this helps!

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