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What to look for in a new tree

Tree planting

Even a small garden can benefit greatly from a tree. This guide is designed to help you determine if a new tree would benefit your garden and how to get the most from a new tree. Selecting the right species of tree for the right place is the most important consideration when doing any planting. Consider the benefits you would like the tree to provide as well as the problems you wish to avoid.

Why do you want a new tree?

Trees provide shade and shelter with their attractive foliage and can liven up a garden by attracting all manner of wildlife – birds, butterflies and bats, for instance. Evergreen trees provide year-round greenery even when your flowers are dormant during the winter months. You could grow your own fruit in your garden, free from the pesticides used on commercially grown fruit or you could just sit under your tree on a summer’s day, enjoying the shade.

Year round colour

Some trees will provide you with constant colour all year round. Other species can provide spectacular displays of foliage in the autumn, interesting bark during the winter and fresh new growth in the spring. The loss of leaves in winter can also be used to open up areas of garden and will increase the levels of light.


If you would like your tree to attract more wildlife to your garden, consider planting a native species of tree. Native trees provide more opportunities for food and places to live for British creatures than introduced varieties.

Things to consider

In small gardens or near buildings:

  • What is the mature size of the tree?
  • Will it be suitable for this location in 10, 20 or 50 years?

Near children:

  • Is the fruit or foliage poisonous?
  • Does it have thorns?

Be careful when siting your new tree – underground pipes, drains and cables can be dangerous. This especially true when you hit them with a spade or pickaxe. Remember – you will have your tree for a long time, so consider whether any overhead cables could become a problem.

Planting time

Bare-rooted or root-balled trees should be planted between autumn and spring to protect the trees during planting and to allow time for them to establish before the heat of the summer. While container grown trees can be planted at any time of year, extra care will be required when planting and additional watering is required if you choose to plant during the summer. Extremes of temperature should be avoided – if the part of your garden where you plan to site your tree is very exposed to the elements, it is likely to cause damage to the tree's root system.

Moving your tree

When transporting trees, be careful to keep both the leaves and roots protected from the elements. Foliage and roots will rapidly lose moisture when exposed to high wind or transported uncovered on a trailer. This damage can result in the death of the tree. To avoid this, cover all exposed roots and branches with sacking before driving away from the garden centre.