Tree planting advice

It is important to increase tree cover in the county, but it is just as important to plant the right trees in the right places. We must be careful that increasing tree cover doesn’t lead to the loss of rare and special habitats.

We're happy to provide guidance on:

Our advice is suitable for individuals, schools or small groups. Landowners and managers should seek large-scale planting advice from The Woodland Trust.

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, the Kent Wildlife Trust has lots of wild gardening advice.

Find out how we can help if you would like to plant a tree on a highway verge or footpath.

Choosing a planting location

Before you start any planting, you should research and understand:

  • how much space you have
  • potential threats from humans or animals
  • weather conditions
  • topography (form and features of the landscape)
  • your soil type.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offer a helpful guide to different soil types.

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.

It is important for trees to be able to establish, with enough room to grow and develop naturally, so the size of the plot will determine the type of trees you will be able to plant. For example, if you have a smaller space, choose smaller species such as common hawthorn, bird cherry or crab apple. If you have a larger space you can plant larger species such as oaks and limes.

Consider the tree's impact on the lived environment such as blocking CCTV, walker's sightlines, light into neighbour's gardens, or overhead wires. Also consider any potential impacts underground, such as the roots spreading to underground pipes or access points.

Once you understand the location, you can choose the right trees that suit and compliment that landscape.

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.

Selecting your trees

It's really important to select the right trees for the right place.

Select native, broadleaf trees sourced from and grown in the UK to reduce the risk of disease and pests. Find a supplier that can guarantee the origin of the tree, or even better, grow locally collected seed.

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.

The Woodland Trust have a useful guide to native tree species including which soils they prefer and how large they grow.

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?

Planting your trees

The Woodland Trust recommend planting saplings which are 1 to 2 years old.

Planting is best done between November and March and you should avoid waterlogged or frozen soil.

Depending on the species you may need to weed or turf the site first, before digging a hole large enough for the root ball.

You'll need some tools including:

  • spade or garden fork
  • watering can, bucket, or hose
  • stakes and ties
  • biodegradable tree guards
  • organic mulch (such as rotted straw, bark, compost or leaf-mould).

We advise you read The Woodland Trust's guide to tree planting, but if you need more advice email PlanTree@kent.gov.uk.

Maintenance of trees

It's really important that trees receive good aftercare for the first few years after planting.

You'll need to continue to mulch, water, and care for your tree and protect it from human and animal damage.

If you used stakes and ties to plant, you'll need to adjust and remove them over time.

The Woodland Trust has advice for long term care of your trees and the Arboricultural Association has great advice on pruning.

Grants and funding

There are lots of organisations offering support to people looking to plant trees and increase tree coverage.