Tree planting advice

It is important to increase tree cover in the county, but it is just as important to plant the right trees and in the right places.

We must be careful that increasing tree cover doesn’t lead to the loss of rare and special habitats.

Our advice is suitable if you are planting a small number of trees. You should seek professional advice for larger scale planting.

Selecting your trees

Select native, broadleaf trees sourced from, and grown in, the UK to reduce the risk of tree disease and pests. Find a supplier that can guarantee the origin of the tree.

If planting lots of trees, consider using a mix of native species; a broad range of native tree species will make the planting more resilient to pollution, climate change, pest and disease pressures.

When selecting a tree species you should plant trees that already thrive in your area.

Consider the soil type so the trees you select grow and thrive.

Consider the space you have so you don't select a tree too big for the area. Think about space both along the ground and upwards.

You should consider what you want from your trees:

  • do you want spring or autumn colour?
  • do you want a large canopy to provide shade?
  • do you want to produce fruit or nuts?

Think about how your trees will attract and support wildlife. Do you want:

  • nectar and pollen for bees?
  • foliage for caterpillars, moths and butterflies?
  • thicket for birds to nest?
  • berries and nuts, for birds and other wildlife to feed on?

The Woodland Trust have a useful guide to native tree species.

Tree species to consider are:

  • Large, for example oak or maple
  • Medium, for example elder, field maple, hawthorn, holly, and yew
  • Small, for example hazel, blackthorn, crab-apple and goat willow.

Planting your trees

The Woodland Trust recommend planting saplings which are 1 to 2 years old. Planting is best done between October and April and you should avoid waterlogged or frozen soil.

Consider the landscape and habitat you’re in, be aware of any under or above ground services and design your planting accordingly.

Do not plant trees in:

  • archaeological sites
  • sites with rare or protected species
  • grassland that has never been ploughed
  • wetlands
  • heathland.

In England, planning permission isn’t needed if your project is under 2 hectares and in a low risk area.

If you are unsure about the location you’re planting in contact the Forestry Commission for advice.

You can also seek advice from:

Schools and community projects may be eligible for free trees from the Woodland Trust.

Wilder gardening

If you haven’t got room for trees in your garden, there’s still plenty you can do to help tackle the climate and ecological emergency.

A garden with many layers will increase its productivity and absorb more carbon. Native, UK grown hedges, shrubs and perennial plants will provide these layers and also provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Climbing plants and green walls can extend the garden vertically, and even provide insulation to home walls to help regulate the house’s temperature.

There are many things you can do to make your garden wilder, you could:

  • leave wild patches
  • create insect hotels
  • install hedgehog holes in fences
  • make log shelters
  • plant pollinator friendly plants
  • provide water for wildlife
  • go chemical free
  • go peat free.

The Kent Wildlife Trust has lots of wild gardening advice.