Don't wait for National Tree Week to plant a tree

Don't wait for National Tree Week to plant a tree

We need trees and if you think they're the preserve of folks with large gardens, well that's not the case. A pot will prove a fine home for many small or dwarf trees.

By Abby Trow
Acers are small trees suitable for compact urban gardens

National Tree Week 2019 isn't until the end of the year (23 Nov-1 Dec)...but you don't have to hang on until then to plant a tree. And remember tree planting isn't just for those with large gardens because plenty of varieties can live happily in a pot or container on a terrace or balcony, such as an olive, dwarf apple or weeping cherry tree. Pictured above: acer trees don't grow overly large and are good for small gardens. Photograph courtesy of Trees Direct.

Say tree and most Brits can rattle off the following species: oak, beech, elm, birch, fir, horsechestnut, maybe weeping willow and possibly hawthorn. Species that belong in woods and which are way too big for most gardens, let alone patios, decks, roof gardens and balconies. 

So lots of us never consider buying a tree, but National Tree Week was launched to raise awareness of the fact that there are plenty of small and dwarf trees that flourish in pots. And by investing in them we'll be improving our own personal environment and doing our bit for biodiversity.

Diana Beamish of Shropshire-based Trees Direct says small trees are easy to care for and they look delightful. She recommends dwarf apple, weeping cherry, Cornus florida, dwarf cherry and olive trees for container planting, while trees that don't grow so big and so work for small gardens include damson trees and acers.

Dwarf cherry trees live long lives in pots.
Good for pots ...Cornus Florida.
Weeping cherry tree, good for pots.
A damson tree in blossom.
Why should we plant trees?
  • Trees absorb CO2 and give off oxygen, so they're vital to life on earth and help counter climate change
  • They're beautiful, improve our landscapes and give us resources such as fruit and timber.
  • Trees and plants - native or non-native - attract birds, bees and other wildlife to our gardens.
  • Biodiversity can improve ecosystems by restoring natural balance and providing food and habitat for wildlife.
  • Trees help prevent flooding and soil erosion.
  • Trees and plants contribute to a sense of contentment and calmness.
  • The appearance of gardens of any size and style can be improved with appropriate, well-positioned trees.
Orange trees in pots make a patio look wonderful
Olive trees grow well in pots in the British climate

Diana Beamish has tips to help ensure trees you buy for your garden or containers will grow and thrive:

  • After unpacking your tree, give it a good soak in its pot.
  • When you're ready to plant it out, prepare a hole which should be approx twice the width of the pot and 1.5 times the depth.
  • Trees like a little bone meal so sprinkle some in the hole. If the soil is poor some compost will also help your tree to settle in.
  • Lift tree out of pot, keeping as much soil intact around the tree. DO NOT TOUCH THE ROOTS. Place tree in the prepared hole. Fill round the roots and bottom of trunk with soil. 
  • Press soil round trunk firmly. Mulch if you want. Stake tree if necessary and WATER THROUGHLY.  
  • If planting in a dry period, take time to water so the tree doesn't dry out, but be careful not to overwater. 
  • If you're planting in a very cold spell, often spreading straw, hay, sacking or old newspaper can protect the base of the tree from a cold frost. 

So go on, plant a tree..and remember if you don't have a garden, just get hold of a large pot.