Plant trees and shrubs

They boost our mood. They shade our parks. They feed and shelter our wildlife. And they even protect our climate! Trees and shrubs are wonderful multi-taskers and no green space is complete without them. Whether you’d like to liven up a dull alleyway or have ambitions to create a community orchard, we’ve got lots of advice to share.

An adult and their child planting a tree together.

This activity can count towards your Wild Challenge, as the Schools Planting for Wildlife activity. Head here to find out more.


Choosing your trees and shrubs

You might think you need acres of space to be able to plant trees, but they come in all different shapes and sizes, so there’s bound to be something to suit your space. Some can even be planted in pots! Remember to consider the eventual size and spread of a tree or shrub, to ensure it’s suitable for the intended location.

The perfect tree or shrub for your project will ultimately depend on what you’re trying to create – for example a hedge, an orchard or simply a focal point. If you’re keen to set up a community orchard, you’ll find a wealth of helpful advice on The Orchard Project’s website.

Wherever possible, try to choose native species as these have the most value for wildlife and will avoid potential problems caused by invasive non-native varieties. We’ve got lots of suggestions for suitable tree and shrub species.

Autumn leaves on a branch.


It’s possible to grow trees and shrubs from seed, but this takes time. If you’d like more instant impact, you’ll need to factor in the cost of buying more mature plants. Bare-rooted ‘whips’ (basically baby trees) are the cheapest option and are best planted during the winter months.

Alternatively, you could apply for a free tree pack for your community from the Woodland Trust or ask for funding from your local authority. Local businesses may even be willing to offer sponsorship. The Woodland Trust have lots of advice on funding your project.

As well as the outlay for the trees themselves, remember that you will also need to budget for the cost of tree stakes, ties and guards, to give your trees the best chance of surviving and thriving.

Partnering with

The RSPB is a member of BirdLife International.More