The benefits of planting trees

  • Woodlands can be a useful way of generating income from unproductive land. Growing woodfuel timber on your farm is cheaper than using fossil fuels like coal and oil.
  • More extreme weather means providing shade and shelter for animal welfare is important. Woodland, shelter belts, and hedgerow trees can all provide shelter for livestock, increasing productivity and reducing costs.
  • Trees used for windbreaks can help prevent damage to crops and reduce soil erosion. Shelter belts can also protect farm buildings and prevent snow drifting onto farm tracks.
  • Planting on unproductive land can improve the landscape and its biodiversity. Woodlands hosts a large number of insects, helping pollination of nearby crops. This also increases a farm's biodiversity.
  • Planting trees absorbs and locks up carbon, helping to reduce your net carbon emissions. Trees also have the potential for woodfuel use.
  • Trees can protect against soil erosion. They help prevent water drainage from land.

Where to start

Set out your objectives for what you want from your trees. Do you want to provide commercial crops, fuel supply, sport, biodiversity or landscape improvement?

Assess available land

What type of land are you planning to plant on and what type of woodland would be suitable? You'll also need to determine the size of land available and how many trees you want to plant.

Choose your trees

Choose the right species for the area you want to plant in. Have a look at what trees already exist in the surrounding area and seek advice.

What you want from your woodland will impact the trees you choose. Factor in their growth rate and the size of the trees.

Think about the visual impact your woodland will have such as native species versus productive conifers.

Design your site

Factors to consider when thinking about site design:

  • Future access
  • Deer and rabbits
  • Environmental impact
  • Creation costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) may be needed for larger schemes
  • What the site will look like in the short and long term

View our 'Preparing Woodland Applications' guidance for more information.

When to plant your trees

Tree planting is usually carried out between October and March.

Access and maintenance

Think about how you'll access the planted trees. Plan your maintenance at the design stage as it can minimise tree losses.

The first 5 years are critical and saplings are at their most vulnerable. After this, the canopy will shade the ground and reduce competition from other plants.

Trees will also become less susceptible to pests and need to be pruned from about 2 years old if you want to produce quality timber. Pruning trees early helps avoid heavy branches that could damage farm vehicles.

Related documents

Small woodlands, woodland features and even individual trees can be an asset on any farm. Our creation of small woodlands on farms guidance describes the benefits of creating new small woodlands, where they can best be sited and offers some advice on planning, layout and species. It focuses on small woodlands of a few hectares in size, say no bigger than 5 hectares. We recommend that you read the introduction first to get the full benefit of the following chapters.

You can also find other related documents to help you plan your tree planting via the links below:

Related links