Trees and shrubs are often planted for conservation reasons and many of the native woodlands created in the UK will grow to offer a range of benefits to ecosystems. If you have specific goals in mind, it might be useful to heed these tips:
When planting for game, you will be aiming to provide low-level shelter, so it is essential therefore that you allow light through the canopy and plant shade-tolerant shrub species. Any fruits or nuts which are produced will provide an additional benefit and wildflowers can attract essential insects. You will want to plant a mix of the following:
Avoid species which cast a heavy shade such as Beech, Sweet Chestnut and Sycamore. Silver Birch, Willows, Rowan, Cherry and Oak can be good choices, but keep the density of planting low and match to the site conditions.
Ideally, you want shade tolerant shrubs with lots of branching and Hawthorn, Hazel, Field Maple, wild privet, holly and box can all work well. Some people like to plant the odd conifer as it can act in a similar way to a shrub in the first few years.
Choose a range of wildflowers close to the edge and try primrose under the canopy as it flowers before trees come into leaf.
The key to planting for birds is to plant a wide variety of berry-producing trees: our tree finder can help you find them. There are some species-specific considerations, such as thrushes and waxwings preferring small berries such as rowan and hawfinches preferring larger berries such as on hawthorn and cherries. The RSPB can advise further.
A mix of wildflowers are best for attracting bees, but planting any native woodland and shrub scheme will help the whole ecosystem stay healthy and natural.
In general, grey squirrels prefer large seeds and reds prefer small seeds, so you can be preferential to one by your choice of species. To help our native squirrel survive, plant trees such as crab apple, hawthorn, holly, cherry, yew, pines, and spruces and shrubs such as blackthorn and guilder rose. Avoid large seeded broadleaves such as oak, beech, hazel, horse chestnut, walnut and sycamore as grey squirrels will eat all the seed before the reds have a chance.
There are some species which can be poisonous to horses, such as box, hemlock, foxglove, alder buckthorn, cherry laurel, and broom. Blackthorn is also best avoided because the large thorns can cause blindness.