Our experience of planting our own Borders Woodland

While we were volunteering at The Borders’ Organic Gardening Society potato day, I spotted a stall that said, “Plant your own Borders Woodland.”  I spent some time talking to the stall holders who were members of the Borders Forest Trust, they explained that we would be able to apply for a grant to plant a woodland in a part of a field that we own that had previously been used to graze sheep.

Since moving to the Borders a few years ago, my husband and I now live in a rural area and have become more aware of the natural world and the endless habitats provided by our garden.  We could appreciate the opportunity to enrich the wildlife and also to potentially have a sustainable source of firewood.  I sent an email expressing our interest and before long Nicky arrived; a representative from the Borders Forest Trust.

She walked with us around our garden and looked at the site.  We mentioned that we were keen to plant native trees and Nicky worked with us to help with the decision of what we should plant.  She also explained the advantage of, if we went ahead, choosing small trees; trees that would be able to become established before they became too large.

After her visit, we spent some time researching trees and looked at what were already growing in other wooded areas of our land.  We eventually submitted an application form for the Borders Tree Planting Grant, which also included protection for the trees.

It was an exciting day when we heard that the grant had been accepted and we then went on to order the 400 trees from our list from a local commercial nursery.  We had been advised by Nicky that the best time to plant them would be in the autumn.  I think that it was at this stage that I felt most apprehensive; 400 trees seemed a vast quantity for two people to plant and to keep them healthy. We were concerned that they should be in the ground as soon as possible.

We collected the trees ourselves from the nursery, using our trailer.  I wasn’t sure how much space that they would take up or even whether we would have to do more than one journey.  They didn’t take up nearly as much space as I thought that they would.  The trees looked more like twigs with soil plugs around their roots.  Probably not more than a metre high. The trailer wasn’t even full as we left the nursery with packs of Field Maple, Silver Birch, Aspen, Beech and Oak Trees.

We actually managed to plant them in a weekend with the kind help of one of our neighbours.  It was really rewarding to see the future forest taking shape. To my relief, the ground was already wet. Also, it rained over the weekend and we were delighted, even though we did get quite wet.

I was a bit concerned about whether the trees would dry out.  However, I needn’t have worried as there was plenty of good Borders’ rain during the rest of the year; probably more than they needed!

As spring approached, we noticed leaf buds, followed by leaves and most trees have grown significantly over the summer.  As autumn is now approaching, their leaves are just beginning to change colour.  Fortunately, the trees that haven’t survived we can count on one hand and we have plans to replace them from tiny trees that are growing in other places on our land.

We are really enjoying the project.  It has been fascinating to watch badger trails spring up around the trees.  One morning I looked out to see two deer among them, they had penetrated the deer fence that surrounds our garden and fortunately did not stay long to eat the tender shoots.

We are really appreciating the opportunity to watch the wide variety of different trees, change and develop with the seasons that we have seen so far.  It is definitely something that we would consider doing again.


Borders Tree Planting Grant 2020/21 Now Open For Applications

This is a very popular grant that is often oversubscribed.  Interested applicants are encouraged to get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 

The Borders Tree Planting Grant is delivered in partnership with Tweed Forum and is generously funded by Woodland Trust Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Scottish Borders Council and NTR plc.

For more information and to apply, get in touch with Nicky Hume: email – nhume@bordersforesttrust.org or call – 07399275973