Jump to content

What sort of trees should I plant


Recommended Posts

I’m looking to plant about 0.7Ha with trees.  Its overgrown at the moment, wet (mill

stream runs alongside and fields can flood for a few weeks in winter).  River valley (flat valley and I’m told soil

is fairly fertile).  Reason for trees

include: “I like trees”, looking for firewood in longer term, may help keep the

weeds down (in the longer term), etc.

I have no intention of planting them evenly spaced in

straight lines (I hate that), but will be a bit more random.  I’ve been told they should be 8m apart (though

the person did not say what species).

Does anybody have any suggestions about what sorts of

species would be best to plant.

Many thanks


Link to comment
Share on other sites


I'd plant a particular area for firewood, and they definately don't need to be anything like 8 metres apart.  I would get Oak for that purpose, because it is easily the best to burn 

Ash seems to grow in, just about every sort of condition but i'll come back tomorrow with some more ideas. A mixed woodland is a lovely thing to plant for pleasure (and mini beasties) now, but also for the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My only thought about Oak is that it is very slow growing

and in a “pseudo-forest” might be “out-completed” by faster growing trees.  However, I’m no expert (hence asking for suggestions).  The few small Oaks I have elsewhere (about

15 ft high) seem to be taking a rest from growing for the last two years.  I don’t need the firewood for quite a few

years (I’ve quite a few trees in other fields) so don’t need everything to grow

as the rate of knots (also I guess has to be good for chimneys and thus not conifers).  Also I guess that cutting trees down tends

to damage neighbouring trees (and its only 0.7 Ha).

You did raise another reason I want trees and that is for

wildlife.  So far I’ve deliberately not

cut it back as it is full of wildlife (walk across it and all sorts of things

fly out).  I appreciate that the

planting process will destroy that habitat for a bit but it will hopefully

recover, all be it in a different form.

It is quite wet (mostly at the same level as the river).

Many thanks


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ian

Re the distance - sorry I was very vague - I was thinking of you planting an area for coppicing, for the nearer future, but if you want it all natural with the intention of cutting for fire-wood much later you are probably right about the distance.

There are some other woods that are not good for open fires, Chestnut, for example, as it spits like crazy, but it is such a wonderful tree.

Quercus rubra is a faster growing oak, and a lovely tree. 

Aulne (alder) handles water well too, and just about every Saule (willow).

How many trees are you thinking of buying, what size, and when will you be starting?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m not sure about the size.  The tree guy is coming round this Sat/Sun and was saying I should

budget 8€ per tree.  He said I could

spend more and get bigger trees or less and smaller.  Unsure what species this is as going into too much detail over the

phone is difficult.  Its about 0.7 Ha,

so at 8m. between trees this must be around 70 trees (plus a few extra for

other fields - I had to edit this to get the maths right [:$]).  It was the tree guy who

said 8m (I have no idea about these things).

I’m hoping to plant them a.s.a.p. so they have the rest of

the winter to settle in and can start growing this spring.  I believe it would have been better to plant

a bit earlier (autumn) but then I thought I’d leave it a year – now changed my

mind as I’d prefer them to all have an extra year growing.

I’ve another field that is wild but has quite a few trees

(mainly ash) that I can use for fire wood for the next few years and I’m

thinking (maybe daft) that if I spread seeds as I cut then they should

establish a balance (new growth = “harvested” each year).

I like the sound of a fast growing Oak so will definitely ask

him.  I’m keen to avoid all the same

species and definitely to avoid these straight grids that seem so popular

(around me anyway).

I've been out starting to cut it back today and its very soft soil (probably from years of vegitation rotting down, etc.).


Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are looking for something quick to grow easy to plant and drinks alot try willows and poplars - we bought some from http://www.bowhayestrees.co.uk/ they arrived as 90cm sticks which you just stick into the ground all of the 55 that we bought are showing buds - John at bowhayes is very helpful - we also bought a further 60odd hedging plants with bare roots and they are also doing very well,

If I can be of any further help please pm me


Link to comment
Share on other sites

In England I found that after 5 years, trees (of the same variety) bought small will be roughly the same size as trees bought tall.

Here we had to buy some biggish trees (12 -15ft) because we just had an empty field. Tree men planted them, with machines.

We also planted hundreds of  bare rooted 'whips', and a few medium pot grown ones up to 8ft high, we put all those in ourselves. The little 2ft high whips  are romping off whereas the growth in the bigger, and medium size trees is less noticeable.

If you are planting now, they really should be pot grown - which adds to the expense too.  It's just a much better start for them in Autumn, the ground is still warm, and they can get their roots down easily. Still, it does sound like pretty good planting conditions; I wish I had what you have.

The trees will scatter their own seeds for you!  Sycamore trees, the scourge of suburban gardeners because of their potential enormous size and errm fertility, would be good.

Amelanchiers are lovely trees (but  relatively small) that are fine in wet conditions. Also all varieties of Poplar (peuplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


How did you find your tree man ? We are moving to the Gers this year and so far my research for trees has been a little pathetic, local pepineries (sp) only. They have stock, but pretty limited and quite pricey, although much cheaper than their equivalent in the UK.

What size/type of tree are you getting for 8 euros ? I have a "field" of about the same size as yours, and would like to do what you are doing. However I am not looking for firewood, but would like fast growers, but not conifers.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I need something that will stand more than 1m high

immediately.  The field has been

overgrown for quite some time and although I’m cutting it now it will re-grow

quickly and need cutting again (reed type grasses) – so I need something that I

can see clearly so I don’t cut them down first time round.

The field is actually on the other side of the road from the

house and is also to the north.  Thus, I’m

not going to use it for anything else, plus the trees will not shade/darken the

house.  I hoping that over time the

field will return to grasses rather than weeds (a lot of stinging nettles) –

but I guess I will have to keep cutting it for some time to come to get there.

Sycamore sounds a great idea.  I’ve actually got some seeds I collected last year so I may

scatter those as well.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eucalyptus is an excellent idea (look for other than the Gunii variety which is what is mostly sold).  If the place is windy, top them after a couple of years.  Salix Alba if it really is reliably wet.

Don't want to be depressing (on my first posting) but you may be under-estimating the work involved.  Digging the necessary holes is a big task.  Worse still is fitting protection against deer.  Although there are alternatives, a proper wire enclosure for each tree is probably the best long-term solution.  To cap it all, watering 70 trees in a hot summer can eat into your time.  Count on five years! 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="AK"] To cap it all, watering 70 trees in a hot summer can eat into your time.  Count on five years! 

AK [/quote]

Which is another reason why it's so much better to plant in Autumn, and as AK said, it's a lot of work. It could take you till autumn to clear the ground around the holes, and to dig the blinking things!

Too late now for bare rooted, but we have bought hundreds of  metre high trees (we had some that were 2 metres high)from these guys, and they have rootballed trees too, for if you are going to buy and plant now. the difference in price is phenomenal (another good reason....)

 You can down load the catalogue or they will send you one. Dozens of different trees and hedging plants. All in French, but its good practice!


In the catalogue you'll see Racine Neue (RN)  are the bare rooted ones. These become available only when all the leaves have fallen in Autumn

En Motte - Root Ball

EDIT: I've jus had a look at the site. the hand held version of the catalogue is much easier to follow, and it has a planting guide (ideal soil types etc)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't know what they are like for firewood but eucalyptus certainly grow like stink - anywhere! - so they are great for instant growth.

May not be a good choice though if you want to support local wildlife. Although it has attractive bark and a bluish leaf, our eucalyptus seems quite sterile, compared with indigenous trees in the garden.

Also seem to be forever pruning (i.e. cutting huge boughs out of) the damn thing, mainly to keep the neighbours happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote user="Tresco"]

It could take you till autumn to clear the ground around the holes, and to dig the blinking things!


Not clearing round the holes – clearing the entire field (and

after 6 hrs strimming today, yes it is hard work, with quite a bit more still

to do less than half done).

Catalogue looks useful. 

I’ll see what tree man gives as prices this weekend.

Many thanks


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been trying to get a picture in my head of what it is exactly that you already have and what it has been historically.  It really sounds as though you have a winter flooding meadow and as such any tree planting needs to be carefully considered with regard to the existing Eco structure and the species present. Most of the trees that others have mentioned I would consider to be "wrong", sorry.

NOT. oak, eucalyptus, poplar, chestnut, sycamore or any other "forest" or non native species.

Any tree planting should be set back at least 18 metres from the natural waterside and I would suggest medium height trees. A few possibles would be hazel, willows, including goat willow, ash, alder, common or wild pear. Personally I would include a smallish contained area of blackthorn and common hawthorn.

The 18 metres is to conserve the existing species, particularly dragonflies and other creatures which use the margins. Obviously I am not coming at this from an aesthetic or commercial perspective, although I think the result would be rewarding for you and I suspect it would provide you with a lot of interest and future enjoyment.  Other than the famous Ragondin, what else lives in and around your water courses?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some time ago the area was grass (i.e. grazing for

cows).   I know this because through

various previous owners I have been left an old black and whit  photo of the field (and mill).  I think it has had horses on it within the

last 16 years.  However, it has then

been left and has become overgrown. 

Main plant life is reedy grass (maybe not “grass” but the long bread

leaved plants common on wetland – grows to a height of a bit less than a meter.  Stinging nettles are gradually moving into

the field from the outside edges.  Last

year there was a vast amount of bind-weed at one end.

The “river” is actually a dig-out mill stream, the true

river is a couple of hundred meters away (across another “grazing” field.

It is about 0.7 Ha and I also have a slightly larger field

just the other side of the mill stream. 

This is also overgrown but has much better “habitat – in that there are

areas of trees (fairly reasonable sized ones), some open grass, some 2+m high

grasses (wetland type of stuff), another bypass stream running through it, some

brambles along on edge, etc.  I think

that this area is probably better for wildlife and it has better cover and is a

bit more diverse.  Margins of the field

in question over the last year were mostly stinging nettles.

In the 3 winters I have owned the place the field has

flooded only once for less than a week, but is is still quite wet.  Given that the river runs down a flat’ish

valley, the mill stream deviation thus has raised banks (i.e. to keep the water

higher so it can “fall over” the mill. 

Thus much of the field and neighbouring fields are below the mill stream

level but above the river level.

There are already a few “self-set” ash trees between 1 and

2m high.  The mill stream banks have quite a few "self-set" trees right on the back where the trunks curve out over the river then run vertical (a bit like a J).

In terms of existing wildlife, not completely sure.  Walk across the field in spring and

pheasant, partridge, etc. will fly out. 

Things like foxes.  There are

quite a few well worn paths across the ditch to the next field (i.e. where the

grasses have been kept low by use and it must be at least 70m from the

water).  To be honest I’ve pretty well

ignored it since moving here as I’ve had too much else to do.  I guess it was the excessive bindweed that

made me thing that if I just kept ignoring it it will just get worse and worse.

I’m not unduly concerned about “commercial” aspects.  In the longer term I will probably harvest

some of the trees for firewood in the house but that is far from the only

reason.  Its more to turn in back into

something that is not just being taken over by weeds (weeds in what I think of the

negative sense; such as nettles).

Many thanks for suggested trees types.  There are several decent established trees

round the ditch round the field so I will check what they are as well (as their

“spacing” suggests “self-set’s left to grow).


Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your ground is wet then this overwhelmingly determines your choice of planting.  Take a look at other wet areas and see what does well.  Alder and willow are particularly suitable.  Without wishing to be rude to other contributors, a lot of the suggestions just wouldn't work in wet/boggy conditions.  
Link to comment
Share on other sites

willows love wet ground-they are handy for building fencing etc

you can even grow a 'live' fence

just push stripped 'whips' into the ground.

then prune as needed

wax creative like this


 they are wide- shallow rooted so tend to blow over easily-not for windy locations

yup salix is my choice with a couple of silver birch for fast pretty growth mixed in- plant birch in triangle of 3

good luck


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Result:  Once I had

managed to get across that I really did not want one of these plantations that

I see around here (quite a few around, small areas with trees all in straight

lines, where after 20 years the trees are sold for wood e.g. pallets, wood no good

for on a fire and very bleak – he called the “poplier” or something like

that).  He was really insistent that I

should make one of these plantations as in 20 years time I could sell the wood

for money !!

Anyway, eventually got through, random and variety of

species and he suggested Ash (Fraxinus Excelcior), Alder (Alnus, unsure of

species), Hornbeam (Carpinus genus, unsure of which species) and Oak (Quercus

Robus – “Il préfère les sols frais et les ambiances humides” et “Croissance Rapide“) .  He was cautions about the Oak and said that only certain parts of

the field should have Oak (as its getting cleared it is easier to see some

parts are higher than others and there are a couple of existing decent sized

Oaks on the field boundary).


Many thanks for suggestions and help (further comments on selection obviously welcome)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi - take care with willow as its roots go a long way and are regularly responsible for undermining property -

Has anyone suggested flowering cherries? They are so pretty in spring and there are many varieties - also the fruiting cherries which would give you two bites of the cherry.....mixed wood would look nice if you are against regimented rows - but do include something which flowers cos you and others will appreciate. phylis bide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...



willows love wet ground-they are handy for building fencing etc

you can even grow a 'live' fence

just push stripped 'whips' into the ground.



I have several willows already so am very interested in

this.  I have “weeping willows”.  Do you just take the yellowy long (and

flexible) bits and just plonk them in the ground (tied to a post to keep them

vertical).  A few questions:

Can you just cut the “whips” and if so to what length is

best ?

How far does one push them into the ground ?

Any time of year to do (or not to do) this ?

What should one see growing and after how long (i.e. to tell

if it’s “taken” or try again) ?

Any other advice to “make it work (better) ?


Any thanks




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Done it.  Ordered my

“self assembly” forest (sort of flat pack or something – to be delivered in

boxes ?)

Gone for Ash (approx 40%), Oak (Robur species – quick’ish

growing, approx 18 %), Alder (approx 25%), Hornbeam (approx 18%).

Going for between 6 and 8 m between trees (degree of

variability).  Next and following years

I have some more areas to do the same with so will be able to “top-up” with

replacements and different species as appropriate.

Many thanks for all the advice.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...