Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Hi everyone. Did you know that this week is National Tree Week? Well, now you do! I like trees A LOT and they do lots of good in our gardens. This blog post is all about trees - why they are important, how to plant and water your new trees, ideas for trees suitable for suburban gardens and a little bit about pests (no, not me!) So read on and learn lots of new facts about trees such as planting in a square hole (a round tree in a square hole, whatever next?)...


Trees are good because:

  • You can climb them! Flowers are all well and good but you can't climb them can you?!
  • You can build a house in them! You can't argue with how good that is.
  • They produce oxygen. A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as ten people inhale in a year! Forests also filter the air that we breathe to make it clean. Very clever.
  • They add height and interest in the garden.
  • They can help buffer wind.
  • Of all sorts of other environmental reasons including cleaning the soil and slowing storm water run off.
Pleached trees can be a wonderful feature in a garden

So, there you go, lots of good reasons why you should include some trees in your garden. But I know some of you might worry that a tree will grow too tall, block light, create problems with their roots etc etc. Don't worry, the right tree in the right place is a great addition to any garden. Here are a list of some of the best small trees suitable for suburban gardens:

Amelanchier lamarckii - Snowy mespilis
The amelanchier is a great year round tree. In Spring we are treated to a wonderful display of snowy white blossom. In summer there are purple black fruits which the birds love. And in Autumn the foliage turns a lovely bronze colour changing to red and gold. Even in winter it looks lovely as it provides a nice structure in the garden. 

Malus domestica ‘Spartan’ - Spartan eating apple

Apple trees are a great additional to a garden. There are all sorts of different ones on the market, some are eating apples, some dessert, some crab apples. Decide what you want to use your apples for or what aspect of the tree is most important to you such as blossom. Personally I like eating apples straight off the tree! The Spartan is a great apple and I especially love it 'cos it looks like apples from fairy stories, all dark red, shiny and crisp! Whichever apple tree you choose, check what root stock it is from as this will determine what size your tree will eventually become. A dwarf root stock is best for smaller gardens. Also, check if your tree is self-pollinating. If not, you will need two unless a neighbour also has an apple tree.

I thoroughly recommend having
an apple tree in the garden!

Betula utilis jacqumontii - Silver Birch
The silver birch is a great, native tree and will withstand any weather. This silver birch has a wonderful white bark which looks particularly beautiful when it is under-planted with lots of grasses. Whilst not a dwarf tree, in the correct position it will make a wonderful focal point in the garden.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Fastigiata’ - Mountain Ash or Rowan
A Scottish favourite, in gardens and the coutryside, the Rowan provides beautiful foliage, especially in Autumn, and little can compare to their lovely bright red berries. Many say that an abundance of red berries on a Rowan suggests a hard winter ahead. There have certainly been berries galore this year so let's see what winter brings. Sledging I hope!

Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’ - Weeping pear
This tree is a favourite for gardeners. When well maintained it can look absolutely beautiful but don't let it get out of hand or it can be a bit straggly. This pear is just ornamental - maybe that's why it's weeping ;) It only gets to 5m tall so perfect for any garden. 

Be careful what sort of tree you choose
or you might end up with a monster!

Prunus serrula - Tibetan cherry
Another ornamental fruit tree but this tree is primarily grown for its stunning bark which is a lovely shiny mahogany.

Magnolia stellataStar magnolia
There are many stunning magnolias out there but be careful as some may not survive cold weather, especially up here in Scotland. We recommend the stellata as it is hardy but is still beautiful with its delicate star like white flowers.

Acer palmatum var. disssectum - Japanese Maple

Acers are wonderful trees for the garden and there are so many wonderful varieties to choose from. Some have wonderful bark whilst others have stunning foliage. Whichever you choose, make sure you plant it in a sheltered spot as they don't like strong winds or scorching sun. This tree will work wonderfully well in a pot too.

Now, pests can be a problem (or so M&D keep telling me!) You will have heard all sorts of worrying stories on the news about pests and diseases which are affecting many of our native trees such as the ash and oak. Thankfully this hasn't been widespread in Scotland and it generally doesn't affect small, suburban gardens so don't let it stop you adding trees to your outdoor space. We recommend you buy locally and ask where the trees have come from. Reputable nurseries will have all the information you require to put your mind at rest.

Pests and disease shouldn't cause you a problem
but it's always a good idea to keep a close eye on your tree.

So, now you know why trees are important and I have helped you decide which tree would suit you best here are some top tips on how to plant your new tree and look after it:
  • This may sound silly but dig a shallow, SQUARE hole for your new tree. Don't dig any deeper than the depth of the pot the tree comes in as the new soil you add will likely compact and the tree will then subside and they don't much like that. The important bit is the width so make sure your hole is at least half as big again as the root ball and square is better for helping the tree establish.
  • Add no more than 50% of compost/mulch etc. The rest should be the native soil which you have just dug out.
  • Secure your tree with two tree stakes and a rubber tree tie. Keep the stakes low so the tree has to work for itself and grow strong.
  • At bud-break, if it hasn't rained for 5 days you will need to water your tree. Add 2-3 bucketfuls of water for an average tree, every 2-3 days. 
  • If leaves go brown and drop off it is a sign of UNDER watering
  • If leaves go brown but DON’T drop off it is a sign of OVER watering
  • If you are reducing the size of a tree never take more than a third off at any one time
Trees provide height and interest to any garden.

If you need any more advice on trees, from planting to pruning or removal please get in touch. Remember to read my blogs about Christmas Trees and things to do with leaves in the garden too. 

Happy National Tree Week!

Hugs & kisses,

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