Planting Woodland in 3 steps: Plan, Plant and Aftercare

woodland planting

If you’re creating an amenity landscape feature or a new habitat for wildlife, you have to agree – wood, is good.  A woodland, once established, can create a screen to mask any eyesore, building or neighbour.  It can link land or other wooded areas; it can provide shelter and a windbreak to increase crop productivity.  That’s before you even consider the longer term goal of timber production.

You have your reasons to plant.  Decision is made.  Now what?  You have to plan, plant and make sure you consider aftercare.  Here’s how.

Woodland is good land

Ultimately, a woodland looks good. It’s full of seasonal interest, it creates a natural, wild playground and has pockets of interest for recreation, learning and fun.  And if you’re a landowner planting for the improvement of wildlife habitats, you might want to check out your funding and grants options in our blog post too.

Woodland Planning

Remember why you’re planting and what type of woodland you hope it will be.  Think layout, think numbers, think tree spacing, think species choice, think protection.

Objective, layout, numbers, spacing, species, protection

Plant trees either in rows at regular intervals, in curved lines or spaced at random.  Rows makes things simpler when it comes to aftercare, mowing etc. but there’s no firm rules.

You can plant just a single species, in groups of the same species or mix it up a little with a blend of a few different species.  Groups encourages upright, tall growth but it’s not a necessity.

How many plants do I need to order?

Now the big question, how many plants do you need?  You’ll need to know the total area to be planted, in hectares.  Then get your maths hat on – there’s a magic formula to work out how many trees per hectare you’ll need.   You’ll need to know the spacing between the rows in metres and the spacing between the plants in metres. Here goes:

  • Number of hectares to plant: (let’s call this X)
  • How many metres will be between your rows: (let’s call this A)
  • How many metres will be between each plant in each row: (let’s call this B)
  • Now multiply A by B. (let’s call this C)
  • Finally take 10,000 and divide by C. This will give you the number of trees/hectare you’ll need.  Let’s call this D.
  • Multiply D by X and that’s the number of plants you’ll need to order.
  • Maths hats off. Visit and start your species selection.

Make sure you include some open ground too to encourage wildlife habitats, amenity and access through the woodland.

Focus major tree species towards the centre if planting in groups, with minor species towards the outer planting and consider shrubs on woodland edges.

Woodland Planting

You’ve got a window for planting bare root trees and hedging when the stock is dormant – not growing – between mid-November and mid-April.  (THAT’S NOW!)

From when you receive your plants to when you plant, make sure the plants and roots aren’t exposed to wind or sun to prevent them drying out.  Best keep them in their bags and in the shade when you’re in the field, poised to plant.

The ideal size for woodland trees and shrubs are 40-60cm or 60-80cm in height. Planting methods employed can be ‘notch’ or ‘pit’ planting.  You can find out more about types of planting and other How To videos here.

Always fit plant protection to ensure your plants are safe from pests and any over-zealous strimming.

Woodland Aftercare

Weeding and checking protection are your main priorities.  You should consider a maintenance programme throughout the year as your woodland establishes.   If you want your woodland to thrive and survive, you’ll need to ensure your plants are protected and well-looked after for their first few seasons’ healthy growth.

We’ve a Year 1 hedging maintenance plan here to kick you off:

March Check Shelters
April Apply foliar-acting herbicide
July Check losses
September Check shelters, pull out weeds, cut tall weeds between trees
November Replace losses

For a full set of guidelines on this and other planting, protection and aftercare advice, visit our Help and Advice section.

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