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Author Topic: Planting a long, thin piece of woodland- general thoughts and density of holly?  (Read 2148 times)


  • Joined Feb 2011
Hi all- I'm going to plant a long thin piece of woodland- approx. 38M x6M. I want it to screen a neighbouring property but not be too dense and I don't want any hedge maintenance prefering to let them grow up high, unchecked (I want to let the sheep into it eventually and to be able to cut the vegetation down a bit in the early years). I was thinking of a planting distance of about 2M between trees and want to plant the following. My main question is what density/% of holly should I aim for as I don't want to make it too dark?
hazel (for coppicing)
bird cherry


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Elder is great for wildlife but it grows much quicker than the others and soon pushes them all over and shades them out.  We have just been eradicating some of the elders we planted in a bit of woodland 10 years ago, and thinning the rest drastically.  So leave a lot more space for elder than for slower growing trees, or be prepared to demolish them.
We have what sounds like a similar strip of woodland stretching along the roadside, which we planted up with trees about 15 years ago, then filled in some gaps maybe 5 years ago.  As well as elder, holly, hawthorn, and hazel, we included a couple of ash, and there was  one there originally, plus a couple of oaks donated by friends who had grown them in pots, silver birch, rowan, mirabelle, willow, roses and then a few scots pine and juniper, and one balm of gilead for the sweet smell in spring.  I think that's it. Oh no, there's also a conker tree my sons grew in a pot decades ago  :)
The hollies we tend to plant in groupings of 3 or 5, rather than evenly distributed, so there's one male to a handful of females for berries.
One rose has been allowed to grow into a large impenetrable thicket, which is gorgeous when in flower, and shelters lots of creatures.  Other roses have a more vertical habit.
The mirabelles are fast growing for keeping out prying eyes, and in spring are covered in may-type blossom, then lots of red or yellow small fruit for the birds, or us.
The whole planting is higgledy-piggledy, not in rows, with the odd tree fitted in here or there when we have them, so different ages too.  The slowest growing are the junipers but we put them in as they are a local native which has been almost grazed away in the open countryside.
Our trees in that bit are now big enough for bird boxes, which we put up earlier this year, and wild birds have been nesting in some of the larger trees already.  The willows are large enough to have been cropped (coppiced or pollarded).  The hazel have had nuts on for the last couple of years - we grow those in small groupings too.
We have underplanted in patches with snowdrops and primroses, and may add bluebells this autumn.

For judging planting distance, visualise how big the tree will grow, and the one next to it, then leave an appropriate distance between them.  For trees like birch, they are not a long lived tree, plus they are light and airy, so plan on removing them in 15 to 20 years, with slower growing varieties to then have space to grow on.  Taller trees will eventually grow higher than others, so you will have several layers of growth, which looks very natural.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 12:04:47 am by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Feb 2011
Hi Fleecewife- that is very interesting. I has encouraged me to pop a few other species into my order and I'll also hunt around for a few saplings!


  • Joined Jan 2013
Have a look at woodland trust web site, you might even get a grant..we did for 1 acre of wood land , and for a hedge row.

I'd advise Thorpe trees for whips..we have used a number of sources but their plants are competitive and good quality.

I'm not sure about your choice of elder...when working with my dad and grandad to lay hedges we used to just cut them out as a weed...not even good to burn.....but that said I once had a very good afternoon drinking elderflower champagne !


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
The tree I forgot I have in that strip is field maple - there are lots of them - couldn't see the wood for the trees  ::) .  They have lovely bark in the winter and seem to attract all sorts of lichens to the surface. They don't seem to grow too big, and are often included in hedgerows.
I find having so much variety in our strip is what makes it special.  It really does look like naturally regenerated woodland rather than a plantation (especially now we've taken the last of the tree guards off).

Stufe35 - elder in a hedgerow is a definite monster because it creates a gap then dies out, but in an open strip, as long as you keep it well under control it has its uses.  Elderflower and elderberry wine and cordial for people, but also valuable nectar and berries for birds, plus pretty, striking flowers in spring.  I wouldn't like to be without it but don't let it get out of hand as we did (although it's easy enough to clear and really satisfying  :D  )
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 07:17:36 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.


  • Joined Jan 2013
Field fare,  We have about 100 tree guards which we have stripped off our trees...there will be more as time goes by.

I know we are some distance from you, but they aren't going anywhere and if you are passing sometime you can have them.

Fleecewife is quite right about the varieties.  Our wood was as advised by the woodland trust to be an natural English wood mix.  I cant remember the percentages of what , but im sure it will be on their website or a similar one somewhere.  Field maple is really nice, we have it in our wood and in the hedgerows we have planted.




  • Joined Feb 2011
Hi Stu- thanks for that kind offer...sadly I don't think I'll be coming your way soon. Would be happy to pay the postage if you could be bothered to send? As it is quite late the supplier I am using doesn't have elder- so probably a good swerve on that (I have a few anyway already growing in the area). I will drop a few field maples in. I'll have a look on the websites you mention. I think due to the size it prob. isn't worth me applying for a grant- and too late now as I've ordered the trees!


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