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Hertfordshire County Council

Why do we plant such small trees?

It might seem surprising, but the best way to establish new trees as quickly as possible is to use plants which are only around 60cm high.

This size of tree is much easier and cheaper to move and plant in a new location. It is also most likely to survive the process, and will grow more quickly than a larger tree.

Protocol for buying trees

Many pests and diseases are currently threatening trees in the UK. It is vital to take great care when planting trees to help protect Hertfordshire from these threats.

Tree planting is a common but preventable starting point for new pests and diseases. To minimise the risk, we recommend planting trees which have been grown in reputable UK nurseries from seeds sourced locally.

As well as protecting us from pests, this makes them easier to establish. Trees planted in the same area they came from are more likely to grow successfully.

The best possible source for trees is from the woodland where planting will take place. In the example above, seeds were collected nearby and grown in a nursery before the saplings were returned to Bencroft Wood for planting.

The right species in the right place

Native trees are the best choice for wildlife in any location. The benefits they offer wildlife are far greater than trees which don’t naturally grow here, and they can be just as pretty.

In natural woodlands, only native trees should ever be planted. These support more insects and everything else in the wood, like birds and bats, benefits as a result. They are also more likely to grow successfully.

Some tree species are currently threatened by new pests and diseases. In places where dead or dying trees could pose a future safety risk, it is more sensible to plant trees without any known threats.

There are many places that aren’t right for tree planting at all. The value of what is there already, as an open space or a special place for wildlife, can easily be greater than what could be achieved by planting trees.

Establishing trees successfully

Young trees are very vulnerable for a few years, until they have grown enough to withstand being eaten and can compete with the plants around them.

Tree guards, which are plastic tubes fixed around the trunks, protect the trees from grazing animals like deer or rabbits. They are simple, cheap and effective, but they do need to be remembered – they should be removed after a few years once they have done their job.

Time spent keeping the area around the tree weed-free as it establishes itself is also a good investment. This means the tree doesn’t have to compete for water or nutrients.

Why do you plant trees in straight lines?

Planting in straight lines makes the future management of a woodland much more efficient, and gives all the trees the best possible chance of survival.

Planted trees need lots of aftercare to establish successfully. One important job is controlling plants around them to reduce competition. Gaps of a regular size between trees make mowing around them far easier. Then when it is time to cut down some of the trees, the gaps allow larger machinery space to get into the woodland.

Equal spacing also means every tree has equal access to light, nutrients and water. This is vital in balancing competition between trees, achieving good survival and success across the plantation.

This design may look unnatural to start with, but as the trees develop and some start to be felled, the lines get less obvious.

Why do you plant so many trees then come back and cut half of them down later?

Planting trees close together makes them grow straighter and taller, as they’re competing for light with their neighbours. This is done in the expectation that around 20 years later many of the weaker trees will need to be felled.

The trees which are cut down have served a valuable purpose, improving the quality of those that remain.  They can also be used, for example as fire wood. This process of thinning continues as the wood matures, eventually leaving only a small proportion of the trees which were originally planted.

Contact the Countryside Management Service

01992 588433

Countryside Management Service Office (Car Park H)
Environment Department (CHG001)
County Hall
SG13 8DN