Advice for the General Public

Trees in a Changing Climate

Although the advice in this database is intended for use by professional's it has always been recognised that the information available within the database would also be helpful to members of the public who wish to plant trees in their own gardens or are considering how to manage in the long term, trees they already own with respect to climate change.

The Mayor's London Tree and Woodland Framework advocates a "Right Place Right Tree" approach to tree planting in London so if you are thinking about planting a tree within your own property, either in the front or back garden you should consider this guidance before proceeding.

A Summary of this advice is:

  • Check the soil conditions so you select a tree that will do well in the conditions present.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient space for the tree to grow, both for its branches and also its roots underground.
  • Consider the long-term management of the tree.
  • Are you likely to need to have it pruned it on a regular basis?
  • Are you prepared to fund this regular pruning?
  • If you are on clay soil, consider the proximity of adjacent buildings and structures, yours' and also your neighbour's.
  • Avoid planting your tree where it may interfere negatively with other plants and habitats (garden ponds, flower-beds, wildflower areas etc.) in yours' or your neighbour's garden.
  • Be sympathetic to the existing character of the area where you live.
  • Consider the overall size of your garden, is it small, medium or large?

Examples of trees suitable for a small garden could be:

Paperbark maple
Strawberry tree
Paper mulberry
Common hazel
Hawthorn
Common holly
Bay laurel
Mongolian Lime

Examples of trees suitable for a medium to large garden could be:

Box elder
Sweet Buckeye
Red horse-chestnut
Indian horse chestnut
Common hornbeam
Turkish hazel
Oriental beech
Small leaved lime

Examples of trees suitable for a very large garden could be:

Common horse-chestnut
Sweet chestnut
Atlas cedar
Common beech
Common Ash
Tulip tree
Scots pine
London plane
Common oak
Common lime

Tree planting has been shown to be one element of an adaptation strategy for reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect. One of the main reasons for the Mayor providing this tree planting advice is so that the public can contribute in preparing London to adapt to the expected increases in day and night-time temperatures associated with the impacts of climate change in the future.

When choosing the tree for your garden you should also consider the tree's potential for providing much needed shade on very hot summer days or for shading your property from excessive direct sunlight during the height of summer.

Choosing a deciduous tree in such a location would ensure that winter sunshine was not restricted when needed during short winter days. The tree could also be sensitively pruned when required, an option not usually available for most evergreen or coniferous trees.

It is very important that before you go ahead with planting you obtain professional advice from a qualified arboriculturist, particularly in regard to the potential for a tree to damage yours' and your neighbour's property.

Most local authority tree officers responsible for trees on private land would be able to provide helpful advice and information in this regard. In London you can obtain contact details for your local tree officer through the London Tree Officers Association website (www.ltoa.org.uk) or by contacting your local authority directly.