≡ Menu

Can I Plant a Wood on Wet Ground in the UK

Wet-tree-list-riparian

One of my goals this year is to plant a tree. I could buy a woodland that would come with trees, information, and a hefty price tag. Or I could buy some land and plant a tree by myself – cheap and easy, and something which requires much more patience to enjoy – there’s no dappled lights swaying under a mature canopy while my new tree grows.

Being of modest budget, I decided to look for some land. If you watch the TED Talk about micro forests, it’s possible to plant a dense patch of urban woodland in as little as 100 square meters. Given that I would like to enjoy my tree alongside other trees, I’m looking for much more space than 10m by 10m. A one hundred by one hundred meter piece of land (one hectare) is around 2.4 acres, and that would be my preferred minimum.

Looking on Rightmove, I found some land not too far away from me. The only thing is that it’s between a brook and a river, so I wanted to research flood maps and which trees might grow. Looking at Google Earth, Google Maps and The Environment Agency flood map, this is what I found.

WoodlandFloodMap

Looks a bit floody

MapsOfWoodlandForSale

Water, water, everywhere

WoodlandForSale

The plot on Righmove

WoodlandGoogleEarth

Google Earth took snaps when it wasn’t flooded

So the whole area looks dark blue in the floodplain map – what does that mean? The area will flood with a one per cent chance each year in the absence of flood defences – that’s the floodplain map for planning. That doesn’t sound too bad, but when you go to the other map – the chance of flooding from rivers and the sea – it says there is a high risk of flooding – greater than 3.3% chance of flooding each year.

Looking at the landfill data, there is all manner of industrial waste reported in the area. There is a quarry next door, and it is hard to get exact details of where the historic landfills are. Within a mile though.

So can I plant trees in a soggy swamp, or as the estate agent calls it, “amenity land”? As a neophyte arborist, I asked a few people over at the Small Woodland Owners Group for their opinion, and they said, that it would be okay to plant:

  • Ash – subject to Chalara dieback – a fatal fungal infection
  • Willow – you can get clippings from canal-side willows and grow your own
  • Alder – they only live for about 60 years, but might live as long as I do.
  • Poplar – happy on river banks
  • Pedunculate oak – this is apparently the emblem of England, and can live a millennium if it doesn’t get diseased.

Looking into riparian woodland species, it seems that there are also a few other trees that could be thrown in the mix:

  • crab apple
  • hazel
  • field maple
  • blackthorn
  • hawthorn
  • spindle
  • aspen
  • hornbeam

Several of these I’ve never heard of before outside of a cider can, so this is quite exciting. So in summary, yes, you can plant trees in swampy ground.

Next steps – heading over to see how squishy the ground is.

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: