Autumn is an ideal time to plant a tree in your garden. With cooler wetter weather it is easier for trees to establish themselves without having to water as much as you would during the summer months. Trees can add so much to a garden, including height, structure, colour, texture, flowers, fruit, shade, and they attract wildlife too. However, they can take up a lot of space, so in this article we will be looking at ways of planting trees in your garden no matter what size it is.
There are several main choices here including:
Commonly grown smaller trees suitable for gardens include varieties of crab apple, Japanese maples, cherry, rowan and magnolia. There are some great ideas for these and more on this here. Corkscrew hazel and contorted willow are examples of trees with a ‘curly’ growth habit that causes them to grow more slowly.
Fruit trees like the apple tree can be trained as espaliers (flat against a wall), cordons (a thin tree of only one stem) and fans (short trunk) to take up less space. It is also possible to have fruit trees with several varieties grafted onto one tree. These can be bought or you could have a go yourself!
A standard tree is one whose main stem is straight with no side shoots or branches, and the top growth can be pruned and limited to restrict growth. Topiary (shaping trees by regular trimming) enables trees to be kept small and attractively shaped. Popular trees for topiary are yew and box trees.
Another way of introducing trees into the smaller garden is to grow them in containers. This effectively restricts their growth but also means that they will need more care including watering and feeding regularly. More information about growing trees in containers can be found here.
Space – even so called ‘small’ garden trees or slow growers can reach a reasonable size in time so consider how the tree will affect the garden site in 5, 10 and 20 years time. Think about the shade it will cast and how it's roots will spread.
Aspect – how will the rest of the garden affect the establishment and growth of the tree. Is it sheltered or exposed?
Soil – different trees prefer different soils. While it is possible to change soil to suit different trees' needs, this can be a process that will need to be continued throughout the tree's life. It is probably best to grow trees with very different soil requirements in containers.