Where to Plant a Wood

Many sites are suitable for woodland planting. On arable farmland there are areas that are difficult to cultivate such as field corners unsuited to modern farm machinery or wet patches where crop establishment is always difficult. An irregular field boundary can be straightened to rationalise a field shape, or on lower grade land an entire field could be planted up.

Cultivated land is generally the easiest site to plant trees on. Root growth is easy in the loose and nutrient rich soil, and if there is an established hedge on the West of the site then tree growth is boosted even further.

Do not plant trees on old permanent grassland with an established native flora such as wild flower meadows, but otherwise grass fields are also popular sites for woodland planting. Horse paddocks may no longer be needed for their original purpose and make ideal small woodlands especially if they are well hedged. Abandoned grassland will need to be closely mown before planting and permanent grasslands usually require some form of cultivation to break up the compacted soil. Voles can be a major problem when planting in grassland,  tree shelters provide ideal bed and breakfast for them! Better to protect the young trees with spiral guards or similar.

Strangely, the most difficult place to plant trees is within a wood. Even when an open area with adequate light is found the ground is full of roots which make digging hard. The newly planted trees must compete with established roots for moisture and nutrients. Deer love the shelter of a wood where they can quietly graze on young trees.

Some enrichment planting may be needed in woodland sites for example planting Oak on an area of clearfelled woodland. These must be carefully protected from deer damage. In general woodland regeneration should rely on coppicing, sucker growth and natural seeding. This particularly applies to ancient woodland sites.