Forestry Advice

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What to Grow

Most forestry trees are easy to grow and require very little maintenance.  The choice of trees is vast so a good starting point is for you to consider what you would like the forest to supply.  Our catalogue is full of suggestions to help you decide under the notes on particular trees. To help you, we give below a list of trees suitable for different uses:
Practical uses
Abies grandis – Used for paper making and light construction
Abies nordmanniana – the alternative Christmas tree
Acer monspessulanum – good for bonsai
Acer palmatum – excellent bonsai
Cedrus atlantic – valuable timber used for indoor construction
Larix decidua – Fast growing timber tree
Picea excelsa – traditional Christmas tree and an excellent backdrop tree
Thuja (all)  – good hedging plants
Acer campestre – good for mixed hedging
Acer platanoides – excellent as a wind break or as a timber tree in mixed woodland
Acer pseudoplatanus – excellent wind break
Alnus glutinosa – the best tree for boggy sites
Carpinus betulus – hedging plant, good for firewood
Castanea sativa – edible nuts and good firewood
Corylus avellana – edible nuts
Diopyrus lotus – edible fruits
Fagus sylvatica – hedging and mixed woodland
Malus domestica – hedging and edible fruits
Pinus nigra (all) – excellent back drop trees and wind breaks
Prunus avium – edible fruits, good firewood
Pseudotsuga  menziesii – very vigorous timber tree
Pyrus communis – edible fruits, firewood and hedgerows
Aesculus hippocastanum – mixed woodland hardwood tree
Quercus (all) – for wood and firewood
Robinia pseudoacacia – excellent stooled for posts, good for honey making
Syringa vulgaris – good for honey making
Tillia (all) – excellent for avenue planting or lining a driveway
Native Woodland
Abies alba
Acer campestre
Acer platinoides
Acer pseudoplatanus
Alnus glutinosa
Carpinus betulus
Castenea sativa (at least since the Romans)
Ilex aquifolium
Quercus petraea
Quercus robur
Sorbus aria
Attract Wildlife
Pinus nigra (all) – great value to several bird species who eat the seeds.
Aesculus hippocastanum – excellent wildlife value
Castanea sativa – edible nuts eaten by many mammals
Corylus avellana – edible nuts
Diopyrus lotus – edible fruits
Ilex aquifolium – great value for birds for nesting and eating berries
Malus domestica – edible fruits
Prunus avium – edible fruits
Pyrum communis – edible fruits
Quercus ilex – excellent nesting site for birds
Quercus (all) – support a huge range of insects, birds and mammals
Robinia pseudoacacia – wildlife value for bees
Sorbus aria – autumn fruits for birds and mammals
Sorbus domestica – fruits for birds
Syringa vulgaris – good for attracting bees
Seasonal colour
Larix deciduas – golden yellow autumn displays
Acer campestre – yellow or sometimes red autumn leaves
Acer palmatum – beautiful orange/red autumn colours
Acer rubrum – red to scarlet autumn colour, one of the first to change. 
Alnus glutinosa – attractive winter catkins
Ginko biloba – one of the best yellow autumn colours
Laris decidua – bright green spring foliage turns yellow in autumn
Carpinus betulus – yellow autumn colour
Liquidamba styraciflua – autumn colour
Liriodendron tulipifera – scarlet red autumn leaves
Quercus palustris – autumn colour
Quercus rubra – autumn colour
Syringa vulgaris – may/june flowers
The following list of tees whilst often good in a forest environment work equally well as a specimen tree when they are given the space to grow to their full potential:
Abies alba
Abies concolor
Abies grandis
Abies nordmanniana
Abies procera
Aesculus hippocastanum
Acer rubrum
Castanea sativa
Cedrus atlantica
Cedrus deodara
Fagus sylvatica
Ginkgo biloba
Ilex aquifolium
Laburnum anagroides
Liriodendron tulipifera
Liquidamba styraciflua
Picea excelsa
Pinus nigra (all)
Pinus pinea
Sequoiadendron giganteum
Quercus (all)
Sorbus aria
Sorbus domestica
Syringa vulgaris
Tilia cordata

Planning your Forest

Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions:
What is a suitable site?
Almost all sites are suitable for some form of woodland trees, no matter how hostile the conditions.  Forestry trees primarily grown for timber are easier to manage when planted in blocks of ½ hectare or more, but it is possible of course to have small woodland of 20 trees or so in an unused part of the garden.  Forestry trees are ultimately much easier to maintain than wastelands.
How many trees do I need?
For tall upright trees at 2m spacing you will need approximately 1100 per ½ hectare
For wider growing, multipurpose trees at 3m spacing you will need approximately 550 per ½ hectare
For informal woodland with trees at 4m spacing you will need approximately 300 per ½ hectare
What do I need?
The trees, canes, cones, strong small spade
When should I plant?
Any time when the trees are dormant (between November and March)

How to Plant

Once you have chosen your trees and site, the easiest way to start is to line out sturdy bamboo canes in the positions you would like to see the trees.  These can be as close as 2 metres apart if you would like to see an upright true forest, or spaced to 3 or even 4 metres if your intention is to create an aesthetic woodland.  Once the canes have been firmly pushed into position, it is now possible to plant.
If you are planting several different species together, take a few of each tree and place these in a separate plastic bag (it is vital that the roots stay damp before planting, as left out in a cold wind, trees will very quickly die).  Try to plant randomly without thinking about the mix of trees.
Firstly make a T cut in the soil using a small sharp spade.  Make a horizontal incision in front of the cane on the side opposite the prevailing wind (normally East side as the predominant winds are from the west).  Next make a vertical cut away from the cane to form the T.  Once the spade is in the ground waggle it from side to side to produce a slightly opened T in the soil.  The depth of soil you will need to cut through will vary according to the variety of tree and the supplied height, but should be about 20 – 30cms deep.
Tuck the roots of the tree into the hole as deep as the planting mark before making sure there are no roots left exposed.  Now close the T by heeling in the soil either side of the tree, making sure there are no large air gaps, and take care not to damage the tree.
If the site is particularly weedy, it is possible to weed kill in advance or simply clean the weeds with your boot just below the cane.
Once all of your trees are planted, you will need to place a short rigid cone over the tree and attach it to the bamboo cane.  This will do many things:
  1. Keep the tree protected from wildlife.
  2. Supply a micro climate for the young tree, keeping the tree warmer and wind free in the winter months, but cooler in the summer months.
  3. Allow easy maintenance for weed killing and or strimming.
  4. Help the tree grow straight and upright, encouraging the development of a leader.
  5. Protects your tree from machinery.
That’s it.  It’s as simple as that and takes just a few minutes to plant each tree.

Maintaining your Forest or Woodland

For the first few years, it will be necessary to cut or weed kill the undergrowth around your trees.  It is common practice to cut between the rows of trees with machinery, but weed kill around the base of the trees, around the cone, normally for about 1m2.
It might be necessary to lift the cones slightly once a year and remove any weeds growing from inside the cones, however most trees will overcome the weeds themselves.
It is not normally necessary to feed or compost young, mostly indigenous trees.  After a few years the cones will start to break down naturally, when they can be collected up or left to biodegrade.  In subsequent years, just ensure the lowest branches are removed (if you particularly require a forest) for easier maintenance at the base.