How Trees Are Used in Garden Design

Following on from yesterday’s brief piece on how trees are useful to us, I thought I would take a little time to explore some of the ways that trees can actually be used in garden design.

Trees can be used in almost any garden, no matter how large or small. Even in a tiny garden, a tree can be a very useful addition. Perhaps these suggestions will help you decide how to plant a tree, or even more than one, in your garden. A tree might be used:

  • To increase potential for food production. A forest garden is ideal, of course, where there is the space. And even in a tiny garden, a fruit or nut tree might be espaliered against a wall or fence. A dwarf fruit tree might even be grown in a container. And step over apples or other similar options can work well to add edible produce in the smallest of spaces.
  • Espaliered, or other trained trees can work well not only against a wall or fence, but also to provide partitions or boundaries between different part of a larger space. Smaller trees, of course, also work well in the creation of a hedge or ‘fedge’.
  • Trained fruit trees can also be used to create an arbour, or even a child’s den.
  • Whether they produce an edible yield or not, trees can be used, of course, to provide shade. This might be shade for a seating area, either in more natural standard form, or trained over a pergola or other support structure.
  • Shade trees and hedges can also enhance the privacy in your garden. Think about how you might incorporate one or more trees to shield a portion of your property from a main thoroughfare, or prying eyes.
  • Another thing to think about is how trees, individually, or in wilder hedgerows or shelter belts, can shield your property or garden from winds.
  • And it is also worthwhile thinking about how placing trees between your garden and a road could help improve air quality and reduce pollution.
  • If you have a sloping site, planting trees on a bank can stabilise it, and help reduce erosion.
  • Trees can also sop up excess moisture, and could be planted ‘up hill’ to reduce boggy or waterlogged patches in your garden.
  • They might also become a place for play – a place to hang a swing or even create a tree house as they mature.

Many of us want to plant a tree, or trees in our gardens. Thinking about their function, as well as the site and its conditions, can help us to make the right choices.

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