Trees are essential in the fight against the climate and ecological emergencies. Trees capture carbon and store it through photosynthesis, they can also help prevent flooding, protect our soils and reduce pollution.
Trees also provide beneficial habitat, shelter and food for many other plants, birds, insects and mammals. All our tree seedlings and saplings have been sourced from people’s gardens in Shropshire.
Choosing which trees to plant
|Tree||Size and growing conditions||Benefits|
|Alder||Up to 20m tall, very fast growing. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||Supports up to 90 species. Catkins provide an early source of nectar and pollen for bees, and the seeds are eaten by birds.|
|Apple||Rarely reaches 10m tall.||Noted for attracting wildlife.|
|Beech||30-40m tall. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||Supports up to 64 species. Beech foliage is eaten by the caterpillars of moths. The seeds are eaten by mice, voles, squirrels and birds.|
|Birch (silver)||Up to 30m tall by 6-8m wide. It can grow in full sun or light dappled shade.||Provides food and habitat for more than 300 insect species, while birds eat the seeds.|
|Blackthorn||Up to 6–7m tall.||Valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees in spring. The caterpillars of moths eat its foliage.|
|Wild Cherry||Up to 30m tall.||The spring flowers provide an early source of food for bees; birds and mammals eat the fruit.|
|Cotoneaster||5m tall by 5m wide. Evergreen shrub. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||Noted for attracting wildlife especially bees whilst the fruit is a good winter food source for many species of bird.|
|Crab Apple||Up to 10m tall. They have an irregular, rounded shape and a wide, spreading canopy.||Caterpillars of moths eat the leaves. The flowers provide a source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly bees. Fruit is eaten by birds and mammals.|
|Dogwood||Dogwood is a small broadleaf shrub that can grow up to 10m tall.||Leaves eaten by the caterpillars of some moths, flowers are visited by insects and the berries are eaten by mammals and birds.|
|Elder (inc Black Beauty)||6m tall by 6m wide. Can be cut back and regrow from the base. Likes full sun or semi-shade. Cannot grow in full shade.||Noted for attracting wildlife. The flowers are pollinated by insects, especially hoverflies. Berries provide a food source for garden birds|
|Hawthorn||Dense thorny shrub. Grows up to 6m-12m tall. Can grow in full shade, semi-shade or no shade.||Good for biodiversity, can support up to 149 species. Its flowers are eaten by dormice and provide food for bees. Haws are eaten by birds.|
|Hazel||Shrub may grow up to 8m-10m if left uncut. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. Can support up to 73 species. Hazel leaves provide food for the caterpillars of moths, nuts eaten by birds and small mammals.|
|Holly||Mature trees can grow up to 15m and live for 300 years.||Provide good nesting and roosting sites for birds. Flowers provide food for bees and other pollinating insects. Leaves eaten by caterpillars. Berries ate by birds and small mammals.|
|Horse Chestnut||Can grow up to 40m tall.||Flowers provide a rich source of nectar and pollen for insects & bees. Caterpillars of moths feed on its leaves. Mammals eat the conkers.|
|Lime Trees||25-40m tall. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. Supports up to 31 species. Flowers provide nectar and pollen for insects. Attractive to aphids. Caterpillars of moths feed on its leaves.|
|Oak||20m-45m tall. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. Can support up to 284 species. Best tree for biodiversity in the UK.|
|Privet||Evergreen shrub growing up to 3m by 3m. Can grow in full shade, semi-shade or no shade.||Beneficial to wildlife. Supports birds nests and other small mammals shelter underneath the plant. Important food plant for caterpillars.|
|Rowan (Mountain Ash)||15-20m tall slender tree. Can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. Supports up to 28 species.|
|Scots Pine||35m-40m tall. It can grow in semi-shade or no shade. Only indigenous pine in the UK.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. Supports up to 91 species.|
|Sweet chestnut||Up to 30m tall. It cannot grow in the shade.||It is noted for attracting wildlife. But it only supports 5 species.|
|Sycamore||Can grow up to 35m tall.||Attractive to aphids which other insects and birds eat. Flowers provide food for bees and insects. Seeds eaten by birds and small mammals.|
|Wild Plum||Shrub rarely reaches 10m -12m.||Flowers are good for pollinators in spring.|
|Willow||8m-12m tall.||Catkins are an important source of food for bees and other insects. Branches make good nesting and roosting sites for birds.|
Top tips for planting your trees
Essential tips and advice to ensure successful tree planting and nurture the growth of your trees with confidence.
Where should you plant your tree?
Before planting, you should consider how much space you have available. Make sure the site you choose will suit the size and shape the tree will grow to.
Be sure to not plant too close to a building, fence, wall or other trees. You should also make sure the site isn’t too overgrown and avoid planting trees under electrical cables.
If you’re planting more than one tree, remember to:
- Give Silver Birch and Crab Apple trees a 3m buffer between other trees in your garden.
- Give Oak and Beech a 5m buffer.
Consider the soil type and don’t plant if the soil is frozen. Don’t worry if the ground isn’t ideal for the tree, such as being slightly stony. If you plant it properly it should grow to be large and healthy.
How to plant your tree seedling/sapling?
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how you can plant your tree seedling or sapling.
If your planting the tree in a lawn, cut a circle out of the turf.
Dig a square hole either as deep as the depth of a spade or as deep as the root ball of the tree, and stack the soil nearby.
Don’t leave the roots exposed until planting it and tease the roots out if they are compacted to encourage growing outwards.
Place the tree in the hole. Try to make it upright, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Don’t plant too deeply: plant up to the junction between where the roots finish and the trunk starts.
Put the soil you removed from the hole back in layers around the tree and then firm it with your hands or heel. There should be no large air pockets which water could get into and freeze. Once planted, give the tree a very gentle tug. It should stay in the ground and not pull out easily.
If staking the tree, the stake should be round and made of wood and a third the height of the tree.
Put the stake on the windward side of the tree so the tree is blowing away from the stake.
Finally once the soil is levelled, add a 10cm layer of organic matter to the whole area to reduce evaporation and keep the area free of grass.
How to care for your tree?
During the first year, water the tree before the onset of prolonged dry weather. There is no need to feed the tree in the first year. Remember to keep the area under the tree weed free so they don’t compete with the tree.
Find more information on planting trees:
The Council’s Sustainable Telford and Wrekin website.
Information from Matt Biggs on Gardeners’ Question Time (31/12/21) and Sustainable Telford and Wrekin Council website.
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