The best tree for you will depend on where you are planting, the soil and climate, and what you want from your tree.
Small trees like rowan and hazel may be most suitable for a small urban garden. Native trees such as hawthorn and crab apple will be best for attracting wildlife.
Fruit trees such as apples, plums and pears can provide seasonal food as well as spring blossom.
Tips on tree selection
Before you choose your tree, it might be helpful to look at these tips:
- think about what you want from the tree (for example, do you want it to attract wildlife? Or would you rather have a fruit tree, or one that blossoms?)
- ensure that there is sufficient space for the tree to grow, both for its branches and also its roots underground (roots extend about 1.5 to 2.5 times the height of the tree)
- plant deciduous trees on the west and southwest sides of your house to provide shade in summer (in the winter the bare branches will let sunshine through to warm the house)
- consider using trees and shrubs as a windbreak and to provide shelter in the winter
- plant trees that suit the existing character of the area where you live
- have a look at the trees growing nearby to see what will thrive in your area. Check whether the place where you are planning to plant your trees is it wet or dry, sunny or shady
- try to choose species that will cope with the current conditions and also the hotter, drier climate predicted for the future – most of Britain’s native tree species will continue to be a good choice and some non-native species will also make sense for planting in towns and cities where the conditions can be more challenging
- It is usually better to plant UK-grown trees to avoid unknowingly importing pests and diseases; you can help protect the environment by buying your trees from reputable tree nurseries, garden centres or other suppliers
Your local tree nursery or garden centre will be able to advise on suitable species.
If you are planning to plant trees near your boundary you should think about discussing your choice of tree with your neighbour. Make sure that trees are not planted where they will cast unwelcome shade, or cause damage to any property including any heritage features, such as archaeological sites. Plant your trees so they cast welcome shade and enhance properties instead.
Trees should generally be planted in winter, when they are dormant (November to February).
There is more advice and information on choosing the right tree from the Right Trees and Woodland Trust websites.
- Right Tree, Right Place – tree-planting advice
- Woodland Trust information on how to plant a tree
- Woodland Trust advice on tree selection
- The Conservation Volunteers – guidance on identifying and growing trees