Large trees are one of the most beautiful and useful assets of any garden. They provide shade, clean and cool the air, act as a wind break, provide a home for wildlife and many other functions. If you are starting a garden from scratch and have no existing trees, then you can get a head start on your landscaping by planting large trees from a specialist tree nursery to add immediate structure and form to your new garden.
When choosing large trees, think about what you want from your tree – different species can play different roles in the garden. For each possible planting space consider the following:
Do you want shade, decorative colour and flowers, fruit, or a windbreak or screen?
How big is the space? Check out the size and spread of the tree species when it is mature to make sure it won’t end up crowding out other plants, or looming over the house. Also look out for overhead wires that might get impacted by the tree as it grows. The utility companies have the right to cut any trees that crowd out phone or electricity wires.
Is the tree site near any paved areas or driveway? Ask your tree nursery to recommend tree species that have non-invasive root systems, so that they don’t end up lifting the paved surfaces.
Is the site in full sun or in shade? It makes sense to choose a tree that will adapt well to the conditions in your garden. There are plenty of indigenous forest trees that can take partial shade, while many other indigenous species need full sun to grow well.
What are the soil conditions? Light sandy well-drained soils suit some species, while others prefer moister conditions.
Make a map of your garden and plot all the spaces where you would like to plant trees. Measure out the distances, think about all the above questions and note the answers and any other details. Now you have enough information to head out to a specialist large tree nursery. They will be able to advise you on tree species that will fit each situation. Indigenous trees are generally hardier and better for establishing a wildlife garden, so ask them to recommend those first.
Look out for a tree nursery that offers a planting service too, unless you are confident that you can handle large trees yourself and plant them correctly. Proper planting makes all the difference in establishing a new tree successfully, though the ongoing care is also important, so commit to watering your new trees on the schedule recommended by the nursery for at least the first couple of years.