Plants For A Forest Garden – Trees

One of the first things to consider when planning a forest garden, however large or small, is which trees you would like to include in your scheme and how and where each of these trees will be placed. (Even in a tiny garden, a couple of dwarf trees can provide a meaningful quantity of fruit once established.)


Fruit Trees:

The core of a forest garden is usually a number of fruiting trees that provide edible fruits. Once established, these fruiting trees can be the most abundant resource in a forest garden, especially when backed up with their 'guilds' of smaller plants that fill all the useful layers of the forest garden and make the most of the space, no matter how much of it you have.


Trees that you may like to consider include but are of course not limited to apple, crab apple, sour cherry, sweet cherry, plum, damson, pear, medlar, mulberry, persimmons, quinces and greengages. More unusual fruiting trees are also included, whose native habitats are all around the world. It is likely that you will have a higher layer of larger trees with a low-tree/ large shrub layer beneath.

Hazel catkins

Nut Trees:

Of course fruits are only a part of the picture and many would also choose to include nut trees in their arboreal selections. Potential nut tree options include the hazel/ cob nut, sweet chestnuts, pine nuts and perhaps even walnuts or almonds in southern reaches.

Laburnum (nitrogen fixer)

Other Useful Trees:

Fruit and nut bearing trees are not the only ones that can be of use in a forest garden. Some trees may be planted to provide environmental protection to your fruit and nut trees by blocking a busy road or by reducing the impact of strong prevailing winds. Some trees may be added for firewood/kindling and be coppiced on a regular cycle. Still others may be nitrogen fixers (laburnum, for example) or in some other way aid the improvement of the soil on a site. Deciduous trees will provide leaf litter/ mulch/ leaf mould and more each autumn... For all of these reasons and more, a wide variety of trees can be usefully included in a forest garden.