Advice on managing your new woodland

The first few years after planting your new woodland are critical for the health of your trees. There are a few key things you can do during the first three years to ensure your trees have the best chance to fully establish and thrive.

Replace failed trees

Even with the best planting technique and planning, you will still find that some trees won't survive, and a percentage of losses by natural means is to be expected. Over the first three years after planting we recomend doing a annual walk-over of the site around the end of the summer, when the trees are in leaf, to check which ones have died. You can use a coloured spray paint to mark up the trees that haven't survived, then when the planting season starts you can replace these with new tree whips. This process is known as beating up in the forestry world – though it isn't quite as brutal as it sounds!

Our Assistant Woodland Advisor shares some tips on beating up your newly established woodland in the video above.

Check tree guards

If you've used tree guards to protect your whips from browsing mammals it is worth checking them regularly during the first few years. Check that your guards, canes or stakes are still upright and correct them if they aren't, pushing them firmly into the soil, to ensure your trees grow straight.  Pull out any weeds or grasses growing up, through the guards to ensure they aren't choking the tree and competing for nutrients. It is also worth checking that the guards were positioned correctly in the first place, so that the stakes holding them are lower than the guards, helping to protect the tree stems from any damage.

Sophie, our Community Woodland Advisor, provides some guidance on checking your tree guards in the above video, including how to remove your guards once your trees have grown to a reasonable size.

Clear weeds and grasses

We recommend that you try to keep weeds and grasses free from around the base of your tree when they are young and still establishing. Weeds and grasses will be competing with the tree for moisture and nutrients in the soil so try to keep a 1 meter clear area around the tree. This can be done in a number of ways, for example by using mulch such as bark chippings, or using a biodegradable mulch mat pegs. Try to avoid mowing near to trees as you could damage the trees and it can encourage more grass growth.

Community Forester, Sophie, explains some of the ways you can keep a weed free area around the base of your tree in the above video.


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