Can you establish trees within sight of the sea?

It is particularly hard to establish trees near coastal environments as the sea breezes laden with salt air constantly blasts the leaves. Last week the South West of England was pounded by 50mph winds and standard trees were thrown about with their leaf canopy acting as a sail. It is better to plant stocky multi stemmed trees on exposed or coastal sites as these are bottom heavy and don’t rock about in the wind as much. Picking the right variety is crucial.

Quercus ilex, Tamarix and Acer pseudoplatanus types are the first choice. Sadly, out of the 400 varieties we grow only about half a dozen will make a go of it within sight of the sea and even these will struggle if the weather is constantly against them in the first year after planting. Always aim to plant in March / April for seaside schemes as then the trees don’t have to suffer the winter battering they would get if planted more traditionally in the autumn. Also, find out how the tree has been grown previously. If it has been growing in a nice protected area before you get it it’s not for you!

So, in summary, for seaside gardens start with an appropriate coastal tolerant variety, plant small stocky multi stemmed trees that are able to withstand the coastal winds, plant in spring rather than the autumn and water well in the first season after planting. Follow these principals and you can be very successful quite quickly, stray into planting experiments and nature will knock you down quickly!

Posted by Mike Glover

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