Grow a tree

Trees are one of nature’s best inventions. They do so much for wildlife –offering nesting sites, cosy hideaways, food in the form of fruit and leaves, and highways in the sky.

Growing a tree can be a lot easier and cheaper than you might think. You don’t even have to have a big garden, some dwarf varieties will grow happily in pots. Even better? Trees store carbon, so the more we grow the better for the environment. 

Estimated time: 1-2 hours Season: All year Skill level: Easy


Find the best spot for a garden tree

There’s a few things you’ll want to think about to pick the right tree for your space. First height – where does the sunlight fall? Check to see if the tree will cast shade in your garden or your neighbours’. You can prune trees to keep growth in check, but it’s much easier to start with one that will grow to the right size for your space. Next, underground structures – are there any drainage points, wires or footings in the area? You don’t want to plant your tree too near these.

A person using shears to cut back a tree.

Choose the perfect tree for your garden

No matter the space you’re working with, there’s a wildlife-friendly tree to suit. Yes, even for patios and balconies.

Trees for pots:

  • Patio fruit trees (eg. Dwarf Fig, Cherry and Plum)
  • Yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Trees for small gardens:

  • Small fruit trees (eg. apples, crab apples, pears and cherries)
  • Hazel (Corylus avellana)
  • Juneberry/Snowy Mespil (Amalanchier lamarkii)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
  • Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) 'Red Cascade'
  • Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)
  • Mountain Ash 'Joseph Rock' (Sorbus aucuparia 'Joseph Rock')
  • Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus)
  • Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
  • Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigatla)
  • Purging Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
  • Midland Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigatla)
  • Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana)

Trees for a large garden:

  • English Oak (Quercus robur)
  • Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
  • Common Lime (Tilia x europaea)
  • Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
  • Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)
The view of the Major Oak tree at Sherwood Forest.
Partnering with

The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International.More