Where to start when choosing a tree for your project

Where to start when choosing a tree for your project

Last Edited: 10/02/2017

Trees can be invaluable assets to a garden and any landscaping project. They come with enormous benefits and require little in the way of maintenance. While this is a decided bonus for budding gardeners, it does tend to result in a lack of knowledge when it comes to trees, especially when compared to their relatively ephemeral counterparts, like herbaceous plants, annuals, and shrubs.

The true beauty of trees is that they are an aspect of your garden or space that can easily be appreciated by everyone - not just the eager gardeners planting them, but friends, family, and visitors for generations to come. 

There are also many practical benefits to planting trees. They provide excellent natural windbreaks, can act as screens, provide shade, and even bear edible food. In addition to this, trees effectively filter the dust from the air while nurturing the surrounding soil with essential minerals needed by the garden. They can punctuate a place, provide focal points, create habitats for wildlife and, of course, are naturally very beautiful. 

Common tree choices are robinias (false acacia) and cherry trees, both of which are easily obtained and so are generally assumed to be a good bet. While they may be reasonably safe, are they truly the best choice for your project, or are they simply convenient?

With so many different varieties of trees available, deciding what you want can be tricky, but a great place to start is to identify exactly what you need the tree to do, and anything you don't want it to do. Here are some basic elements to decide upon which will help you narrow down the possibilities:

  • Are you looking for a standalone tree or one to include in a group?
  • Do you want your tree to provide shade or, alternatively, do you want to ensure it doesn't block out your light?
  • How fast do you need your tree to grow - are you looking for a quick developer or a slow burner? Do you want your tree to be well established when you plant it (i.e. a mature tree), or are you happy to plant a sapling and watch it grow? Why not try the middle road and opt for a semi-mature tree?
  • If you're looking to use your tree to block out a specific eyesore, how big do you need it to be? Do you need more than one? Consider formed hedging and instant hedging - they're great at creating barriers and screens. 
  • What is the ultimate height you are looking for? If you have a limit or minimum, it's vital you know this.
  • What kind of soil are you planting your tree in?
  • What level of light exposure will your tree receive?
  • What shape do you want - consider elements like branches and canopies; do you want a straight bare trunk and high foliage, or lots of branches to climb? 
  • Are you looking for a fruit-bearing tree? If so, what are your favourite fruits?
  • Trees are often chosen because they achieve a particular ambience or evoke a certain style, country, or culture. Is there anything you are trying to achieve in this regard?
  • Are you trying to create a private garden? Pleached trees (also known as instant screening) are perfect for extending the height of fences and walls to create the perfect, private space.

Looking for more advice on choosing the perfect tree? Get in touch with our team by calling 01462 813390, we're happy to help...