Plan Hero

Plan

While you will be keen to start planting, to give your tree the best chance of thriving, it is really important to do some planning first. Guided by an ethos of sustainable planting, this page will help you to learn about the tree planting season, where to plant and how to secure a healthy tree which is right for your location.

Once you have finished reading our PLAN page, carry on to our PLANT page for simple instructions on planting your tree.

When to plant

You will need to consider the time of year. Experts recommend planting trees between October and March, when they are dormant and less likely to be damaged during planting. The summer months are a good time to plan your project, ready for planting during the autumn.

Where to plant and which species

It is important to think about the size and spread of the trees and how you will use the site as the trees grow. There are many different varieties of trees, all of which have different characteristics, purposes and needs (soil, water, nutrients). Most trees can grow in a range of conditions, though some will prefer particular soil types.

Explore your local area and ask for advice

Take a look around your neighbourhood and see what’s thriving for an idea of what might do well, and ask experts for advice when purchasing on what type of species is recommended based on your location.

Securing a healthy tree

In order to participate in this project, you may purchase your own trees from the recommended nurseries or, if you are a school or community group, you may apply for free saplings from autumn 2021 through our Woodland Trust partnership. In Northern Ireland, free tree packs are available through our partner The Conservation Volunteers.

Prices of trees vary greatly, from relatively inexpensive (less than £1) to substantially more depending on factors such as the species and size. It is really important when planning to factor in other costs associated with planting and establishing a tree as well.

Purchasing a tree from a certified nursery will reduce the likelihood of your tree carrying a pest or disease which will not only affect it but can spread to other plants. A nursery with a Plant Healthy certification will have a strong biosecurity standard and their trees are likely to be healthy plants and have high plant health. The OHAS Grower Standard is another certification scheme to look out for when searching for an accredited nursery.

If you are finding it difficult to locate a nearby nursery that has evidence of certification, the next best way you can do your bit is by asking the following questions ahead of purchasing:

    • Is this tree from a certified nursery that follows Plant Healthy or OHAS or other certification?
    • Have these trees been grown in the UK (UKISG assured)?

If storing your tree before planting, store it upright sheltered from frost and wind. Lightly spray the roots with water if they appear to be drying out. Or if your tree is in a container, ensure the roots do not dry out by watering.

The implications of planting an unhealthy tree can be devastating for the surrounding environment. If you would like to learn more about this, please visit our page on tree diseases and pests.