Blizzards and Snow bring down trees

It is sad to see the loss of so many fine trees in Guernsey as a result of March’s exceptional snow storm. But their loss can provide the opportunity to plant replacements for future generations to enjoy. Trees can be planted at any time of year although it is easier to gain establishment if trees are planted in late autumn/winter during their “dormant” period. It is important to pick the right type of plant for a given season. Container grown trees can be planted at any time of year but will need more aftercare if planted in the summer whilst bare root trees should only be planted in their dormant period ie late November – February.

When planting trees the most important stage is the thinking about it before you buy & plant! Before rushing to plant a replacement ask yourself what you want from a new tree: is it for wildlife value, shelter, screening, autumn colour or perhaps a combination of these. This may sound odd but is there a need to replace? Where trees have been growing in association with others the shade from these neighbouring trees may prevent a replacement from taking and in any event the surrounding canopies of those neighbours can quickly fill a gap within 2‑3 seasons.

Placement of new trees is important. To avoid future direct damage from the growth of stems and root buttresses do not plant too close to walls or other structures and should take account of any underground services. Choosing what species can mean you are spoilt for choice because of the huge range available. The Men of the Trees strongly advises that context is considered when choosing what to plant. For example species selection in more rural areas of the island should be sympathetic to the landscape of the area. Here only native or naturalised species should be selected such as English oak, Small leafed lime, Sweet chestnut. Ash (the current regulations mean you will only be able to use locally sourced plants) should be avoided for the time being until we know more about any natural resistance there might be to Chalara Ash dieback.

If planting in a garden situation which does not have a rural aspect or does not border fields you can allow yourself a wider choice of species although we would still recommend some natives are planted to support biodiversity. An alternative to Evergreen oak is Turner’s oak which is a cross between English oak and Evergreen oak but does not grow as tall. If you’ve lost Pines but want to replace them try Scot’s pine as an alternative. Again it has a higher wildlife value and is less oppressive than the Monterey pines which still feature heavily in our landscape.

 One final word. Trees near roads and property, particularly evergreens, should be checked for cracks, splits and other damage. Partially damaged trees can present a risk of failure without warning and should be checked – this may require an aerial inspection. Inspection and works to trees should only be done by professionally qualified and insured operatives. For further information please contact Guernsey Trees for Life.

Guernsey Trees for Life is a charity dedicated solely to the planting and aftercare of trees, raising the profile of trees and their importance and educating people about trees and how to care for them.

Andy McCutcheon


Guernsey Trees for Life