How To Plant A New Woodland In The UK


This little post is here to inspire the growth of new woodlands and show how easy it can be.

Cold Harbour Woods

Cold Harbour woods is a beautiful 13 acre ancient woodland full of rabbits, badgers,  squirrels, roe deer and many more creatures. At dusk the rooks and crows form spectacular flying displays before dropping into the woods to sleep.
Our quiet woodland had a big loss in 2015 when 3 acres of Larch had to be removed to reduce the spreading of sudden Ramorum disease ​, but this was quickly replanted.


We could have simply replanted the area with a similar mono crop fast growing species used for fire wood, such as Ash or northern pine. However we wanted our pre-existing wildlife to grow, we also wanted the woodland to change colours throughout the season and support a variety of life on the floor.

The woodland is on a 15% gradient south facing hill making it a great drainage and light location. We choose our trees to match the quality of soil but also to create a mixture of reds, yellows and vibrant greens.  You want to buy saplings at the age of 1 to 2 years, this is known to have the best success rate with roots at the right stage for adapting to the new soil quickly. When choosing what trees to plant use this woodland trust guide to help match the tree to the soil quality, climate and water availability.

There are 3 types of planting techniques. You want to plant each tree 2 around 2-3 meter apart or for a dense woodland 1-2 meters apart. Plant in a chessboard style for a more natural look.

Pit Planting

Dig a small hole, just bigger than the root ball and deep enough to bury the tree up to its collar. Chop up the holes turf and place a small amount at the bottom of the hole, place the tree in the hole and gently push the rest of the turf over the roots. Not too firm or water can’t penetrate into the roots but firm enough to keep the tree upright. Push a cane close to the tree stem through its roots until it is firmly in place, wrap a tree guard around both.

T Notched Planting

Using a spade make two deep cuts in the land forming the letter “T”, then using the spade in the top of the T pry the vertical line up. Place the tree in between the two tufts of soil and lower back into the ground, gently apply a bit of pressure around the tree making sure it is firmly in place. Again you can push a cane in beside for a tree guard.

Slit Planting: (The Fastest)

Simply push your spade in deep and pull to one side opening up the ground. Slip the tree in front of the spade and pull the spade out. You can then apply pressure making sure the tree is in firmly and add a cane for a tree protector. This is the fastest way to plant a tree but can also cause damage when removing the spade. The roots will also struggle a little more as the soil is undisturbed and harder.
The government have many different grants and even carbon sink payouts for planting trees. You can apply for the woodland creation grant which can pay up to £6,800 per acre if accepted. Another new scheme allows landowners to sell the rights of carbon capturing to the government. That means that as your young tree grow they capture CO2 which the government could purchase off you for the next 35 years. Register to the woodland carbon code and then apply for the  woodland carbon guarantee.

Our Woodland Growing

My company Grain Designs, plants a tree here and in other locations for each new order. I create bespoke coat racks, house signs and i’m available for custom orders too.

Thank you for reading, I hope to see your woodland pictures too!

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