Last month we looked at the many things Certainly Wood has to consider before it even goes ahead with the planting of a woodland. So what happens once the young trees have been bedded in.
It’s a competitive world out there and a young tree has to fight for both water and light. That’s why weeds need to be regularly cleared from around it. Like every living thing, water and warmth from the sun are the ideal combination to ensure strong growth.
Different types of trees grow at very different rates. Oak is very slow growing whilst silver birch is much faster. This results in a difference in the quality of wood they produce. Oak is a dense, hard wood because of the time it takes to mature. As everyone knows, you can tell the age of a tree by counting the rings through the cross-section of its trunk. The rings also reveal the weather conditions that year – if there was a drought, the ring will be much smaller.
Once a tree has reached a height of around two metres, weeds and other plants will pose a problem, with one exception. Brambles will climb up and swamp a tree if they’re not dealt with. That said, we clear weeds from around our trees for at least five years.
As the tree establishes itself, its root system will develop and be able to provide itself with all the nutrients it needs. We continue to check on the trees after that to make sure they’re thriving and to remove any damaged branches. We will also maintain the apical dominance of the trees – in other words, we make sure it continues to grow tall and straight by allowing the central trunk to remain the strongest part of the tree.
You’ve probably spotted newly-planted trees alongside newly built roads, which are dominated by a plastic guard. Although not that aesthetically-pleasing, they play an important role. It helps to keep a young tree warm – when the sun shines through the guard, it acts like a mini greenhouse. It also protects it from wind chill and frost, as well as any hungry rabbits and deer. A stake provides support in the early stage of growth too.
Another feature of our woodlands are the bird and bat boxes – we do everything we can to turn our woodlands into wildlife sanctuaries. Trees cannot sustain nesting birds until they reach somewhere between the age of ten and thirteen as they don’t provide enough cover to allow the birds to feel safe.