Tree layer design

forest garden tree design

Plant selection and tree placement

We set out our aims for plant selection:


Broadly the trees were placed according to how much light and protection they needed: near the windbreak we placed more wind-hardy trees, and in the edges of the clearing we placed sun-loving trees. We also paid attention to our boundaries, not placing tall trees near to the neighbouring polytunnel and vegetable beds, and planting early flowering trees next to the bee garden.

The people process

We ordered our trees from the Agroforestry Research Trust aiming to support the great work they do and benefiting from their great selection of plants and the information about them. We also wanted to include some traditional apple varieties and support the great work done by Brighton Permaculture Trust in planting orchards and reviving Sussex apples.

As a group we had great fun choosing fruit and nut trees, licking our lips in anticipation. I made my first attempts at placing the trees according to where they grow best within our boundaries and pathways and clearings.

We planned the tree planting for the new year holidays to harvest the abundant resource of manpower with fingers crossed for suitable weather. The design of the tree planting was supported by guidance from Stephan from Brighton Permaculture Trust, expert forest gardener and orchard designer and implementer. The planting method has been developed by a process of observation, analysis, implementation and review over many years by the BPT team. The aim is to get the tree off to as good a start as possible, with high input at the start for low maintenance and high yield for years to come.

Here is a brilliant video of Stephan on How to plant a fruit tree really well.

Below are photos of Bryn from BPT giving a demonstration of how to plant a tree.

First dig a hole a metre by a metre in a square shape.

Then hammer in three stakes. You could use one big stake or small stakes, but three big stakes are applying the principle of multifunctionality Рto hold the necessary long term protection for the tree  Рon this site from rabbits and deer and to provide staking for the tree. It is not necessary or even advisable to hang on the stakes!

It is advisable, but not necessary, to add a tube for easy watering though.

Next, take your fruit tree, the roots have been soaked in water and the branches have been pruned so that the root and the branches are in balance upon planting, and add the secret ingredient –¬†mycorrhizal fungi.

Cover the roots of your tree, add compost if the soil is not rich, and build up a mound.

Then add the vole protection.

Then add the chicken wire to protect from rabbit and deer. Use mypex to provide a long term, low maintenance barrier for grass, preventing competition for the young tree.