How do I choose the right tree for my front or back garden?

Viewers of TV shows like Driving judge You know very well what a tree infiltrator can give. “The branches are drooping, the leaves are falling near the neighbors, and it’s a tree that is too big for the space in which it stands: it’s the same with us,” says Martin Herme, Flemish botanist, professor emeritus at KU Leuven.

Hermi recently posted The right tree for every garden, Which is a standard work on native and exotic trees, where much can be found about, for example, the specific characteristics of tree species (size, shape, leaf color, etc.). “Trees add an extra dimension to space,” Hermy says of the origin of his work. In addition, trees also provide all kinds of important ‘services’ (storing carbon dioxide2, Cooling on hot days, water absorption, air purification) are of great importance for species such as birds and insects. “Each in their own way. For example, coarse bark is more exciting to insects than smooth bark. The stiffness of the blade also plays a role in this.”


The truth is, finding the right tree takes some study. You can of course walk into any garden center and come out with a seemingly nice sample. The scale there is often not really surprising, as large garden centers are very sensitive to commercial trends. Hermie: “People are fundamentally sensitive to buying what stands out and what looks fresh. What is in bloom is always good.” If you look further, you can also succeed: in the Netherlands there are excellent tree nurseries with a variety. “It also reaches out to individuals.”

A little googling pays off. Hermy, however, is in favor of discrepancy in parks and along roads. Not only can this be visual surprise, but it is also better if a tree species falls prey to a pest or disease, for example as a result of climate change.

Proof of the future

The art of picking trees looks to the future. What is the height of my tree in five, ten or twenty years? This relates to things like length and shape (vertical or spherical, flat or possibly widely crumbled branches), but also the color of the leaf, for example in the fall. If you hate fallen leaves, it is best to choose evergreen, as everyone loves flowers.

The choice is huge and that makes it complicated and personal. Hermie: There is no perfect relationship between a tree and a garden. But when the tree is more than half the length or nearly the width of the plot, it begins to feel really unsuitable. The same goes for tree height. For example, if its height is four times the depth of the ground, it does not do the garden much. ”

Between the pot and a half liter

Of course, you can process such oversized specimens with pruning shears or saws. “With a really old tree, you reasonably risk that it won’t survive the top. Especially with coniferous wood. Once it starts topping, you have to do it again in a number of years. This is not a job you do between pot and pint, and it usually has to You have to bring someone. ”

Cakes or candlesticks – bringing them back to their original shape – have another effect. Hermie: “When you do that, you push the buttons more. The response to that is often rapid growth.” Yes, when you’re young, Hermy continues, self-pruning isn’t usually a big problem. “Things will change later.” And make no mistake. Some items really need regular maintenance. For example, popular lemon trees can only be tamed with constant pruning every year. “But holm oak, which is also available as a barrier tree, grows slower and also stays green in the winter. You can also trim oak wood using pruning shears. The only drawback is that oak is more expensive.”

for work? Sit back and relax!

However, regular pruning also has its advantages. “Rarely does a beech tree last more than 250 years,” Hermy says. If you start dirtying it, it will get old. So, oak trees in the UK are 400 years old, and in Italy they are 600 years old. ”These really old trees are comparable to older people, and they are very fragile.“ They often have less vitality, and suffer from disease, but in shape, ”Hermy says. Balanced, things are going smoothly. ”

So, whoever wants to make sure that his “own” tree will defy the ages, knows what to do. Or do many people choose to do this? Hermie: You don’t just want to work in the garden, do you? The tree is mainly there to sit and relax underneath. ”

Also read:

Stop cutting, trees are irresistible

Why does cutting down trees evoke so much resistance and emotions? Ecologist Judith Slagt thinks she knows: People feel that their nature is dissipating. Circular was seen as a metaphor for the loss of biodiversity.

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