Your garden is your own little slice of nature, and how you cultivate it is entirely down to you. Sounds liberating — but there are over a hundred common tree species in the UK, and they’re not all suitable for every garden. If you’re dreaming of a jungle paradise, follow our guide to find out which trees are right for you.
What to consider before you start
You must first make sure you plant your trees legally and without dispute from your neighbours. Read our residential tree laws and neighbour disputes articles to find out more about the UK regulations for growing trees on your property.
Once you know the regulations, it’s time to decide which trees to plant.
Before you start buying and planting your trees, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- How much space do I have?
- Is my garden prone to extreme weather?
- Do I want to grow fruit?
- Do I want to create an aesthetic effect?
- How quickly do I want my trees to grow?
All these questions will affect which trees you should plant. Keep your answers in mind as we continue the guide.
Does size matter?
Big trees and small gardens are like ketchup and ice cream — they simply don’t work together.
Large-growing trees may appear fine when they first start growing, but before long they’ll be impinging on buildings, blocking sunlight, and the roots could interfere with nearby structures. Remember, trees take years to grow to their full size, so keep that in mind when you first start planting them.
Consider the following trees for a small garden:
- Japanese Maples — these trees are small and slow-growing but offer an attractive shape and bold colours.
- Stewartia Monodelpha — these multi-stemmed trees take up little space and bud beautiful white flowers.
- Cercis – these trees are also known as ‘redbuds’ due to their wine-red blossom. The ‘Avondale’ variety only grows to around 3m tall at their largest, making them ideal for a smaller garden.
How close to the house can a tree be?
Location is an important consideration when planting trees. Plant a tree too close to your home and the roots or branches may damage the building as the tree grows larger. Trees can block a lot of light to the inside of a house and can cause lots of debris on patios, especially if birds like sitting in them.
There are no set minimum recommended distances for planting different types of trees near buildings but insurance companies may have their own guidelines. Please check with your own insurance company.
Can I plant my trees in a pot?
Small trees can be planted in pots. This is useful for moving your trees around into different arrangements, and also for easy transportation when you move.
However, you must consider that a tree can easily outgrow a pot and the roots may get damaged in the process. If you do choose to use a pot, opt for a small tree and a large pot.
How quickly will my trees grow?
You may have dreams of an outdoor jungle — but it’s not going to happen overnight. Trees grow at different rates, so if you’re not a patient person, consider these easy trees to grow:
- Hybrid Poplar — these are some of the fastest growing trees, reaching up to 2.5m per year.
- Quaking Aspen — a beautiful autumnal colour, this tree grows to around 1m per year.
- Dawn Redwood — these are extremely fast growing and will reach a height of 20m plus at maturity.
What features can I get for my tree?
Not all trees are made equal. Consider a fruit or ornamental tree for that extra special touch.
If you wish to grow an abundance of fruit from your tree, consider the following:
- Apple trees
- Pear trees
- Cherry trees
You could also plant berry trees, but please consider that trees full of berries will attract birds.
Ornamental trees are another option to make your foliage stand out. These are trees grown for their aesthetic value, and are recognised by their bright colours and unique shapes.
Some examples of ornamental trees include:
- Cherry ‘Kwanzan’ — a tree of ever-changing colour. The foliage emerges a ruby-bronze, fades to dark green and then transforms into a golden orange during autumn. It blossoms with vivid pink flowers.
- Hydrangea Tree — this round tree features stunning pink flowers bursting out of rich green foliage.
- Magnolia Royal star — this is a towering, regal tree that blooms white flowers. In autumn the tree produces a magnificent yellow-bronze colour.
How do I maintain my tree?
If your trees grow too large or show signs of diseases or decay, you’ll need to restore them to a healthy condition and size. Fruit trees should be pruned every 2-5 years to generate good crops and other trees may need regular pruning to maintain their shape or keep them away from power lines. A professional tree surgeon can offer a range of tree maintenance services to keep your garden in top condition.
- Pruning and lopping — for controlling the size of the tree and helping it to grow in the right direction.
- Felling — for removing the tree if it is badly diseased
- Pollarding — for reducing the height of the tree
Artemis Tree Services is an award-winning tree surgeon business, recently winning the ‘Employer of the Year’ and ‘Arboriculture Contractor of the Year’ at the Horticulture Week Business Awards. We care about your trees, which is why we offer a range of tree maintenance services and advice to bring your dream garden to life. For tree surgery in Rickmansworth, Watford and the wider London area, give our team a call.