top of page

How to Choose the Right Tree Species for an Irish Garden



Trees are a great addition to any garden, as they provide beauty, shade, privacy, wildlife, and value. However, not all trees are suitable for every garden, as they have different needs and characteristics. Choosing the right tree species for your garden can make a big difference in the success and enjoyment of your planting. In this blog post, we will give you some tips and suggestions on how to choose the right tree species for an Irish garden.


Consider the size and space of your garden

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a tree species for your garden is the size and space of your garden. You want to choose a tree that fits well in your garden, without crowding or overshadowing other plants or structures. You also want to consider the mature height and spread of the tree, as well as the root system and growth rate. Some trees can grow very large and fast, while others can stay small and slow. Some trees can have shallow or invasive roots, while others can have deep or compact roots. You should always check the label or description of the tree before buying or planting it, and make sure you have enough space and suitable soil for it.


Some examples of tree species that are suitable for small or medium-sized gardens are:

  • Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia): This is a native flowering and fruiting tree that can grow up to 15 metres tall and 8 metres wide. It has attractive pinnate leaves that turn yellow or red in autumn, creamy white flowers in spring, and bright red berries in autumn. It is a popular tree with birds and bees, and can tolerate a range of soil and site conditions.

  • Crab apple (Malus sylvestris): This is another native flowering and fruiting tree that can grow up to 10 metres tall and 8 metres wide. It has oval or lobed leaves that turn yellow or orange in autumn, pink or white flowers in spring, and small yellow or red apples in autumn. It is a good pollinator for other apple trees, and can also be used for making jams or jellies.

  • Cherry (Prunus spp.): This is a group of deciduous trees that can grow up to 15 metres tall and 10 metres wide, depending on the variety. They have simple or serrated leaves that turn yellow or red in autumn, white or pink flowers in spring, and edible or ornamental cherries in summer. They are best planted in sunny and well-drained sites, and can add colour and fragrance to your garden.

Some examples of tree species that are suitable for large or spacious gardens are:

  • Oak (Quercus spp.): This is a group of native and non-native trees that can grow up to 40 metres tall and 20 metres wide, depending on the species. They have lobed or toothed leaves that turn brown or gold in autumn, catkins or acorns in spring or autumn, and hard and durable wood. They are long-lived and majestic trees that can support a rich biodiversity of wildlife.

  • Beech (Fagus sylvatica): This is a non-native tree that can grow up to 40 metres tall and 15 metres wide. It has smooth grey bark and oval leaves that turn golden in autumn and stay on the tree until spring. It also produces small nuts called beech mast that are eaten by birds and mammals. It is a beautiful and elegant tree that can create a dense and shady canopy2.

  • Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris): This is a native evergreen conifer that can grow up to 35 metres tall and 10 metres wide. It has reddish-brown bark and needle-like leaves that are green or blue-green. It also produces cones that contain seeds that are eaten by birds and squirrels. It is a resilient and adaptable tree that can grow in poor and sandy soils2.


Consider the climate and conditions of your garden

Another important factor to consider when choosing a tree species for your garden is the climate and conditions of your garden. You want to choose a tree that can thrive in your garden, without suffering from frost, drought, wind, or pests. You also want to consider the exposure and aspect of your garden, as well as the soil type and pH. Some trees can tolerate a wide range of conditions, while others can be more fussy or sensitive. You should always check the hardiness and suitability of the tree before buying or planting it, and make sure you provide the optimal conditions for it.


Some examples of tree species that are suitable for cold or frosty gardens are:

  • Alder (Alnus glutinosa): This is a native deciduous tree that can grow up to 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide. It has toothed and rounded leaves that turn yellow in autumn, catkins or cones in spring or winter, and nitrogen-fixing properties that can improve the soil. It is a water-loving tree that can grow in wet and boggy sites, and can also tolerate frost and wind.

  • Birch (Betula spp.): This is a group of native and non-native trees that can grow up to 30 metres tall and 10 metres wide, depending on the species. They have smooth or peeling bark that can be white, silver, or brown, and triangular or diamond-shaped leaves that turn yellow in autumn. They are fast-growing and graceful trees that can grow in poor and acidic soils, and can also tolerate frost and wind.

  • Holly (Ilex aquifolium): This is a native evergreen tree that can grow up to 15 metres tall and 8 metres wide. It has glossy and spiny leaves that are green or variegated, and red berries in winter that are eaten by birds. It is a slow-growing and dense tree that can grow in sun or shade, and can also tolerate frost and wind. It is also a good tree for hedging or topiary.

Some examples of tree species that are suitable for warm or sunny gardens are:

  • Arbutus (Arbutus unedo): This is a native evergreen tree that can grow up to 10 metres tall and 8 metres wide. It has dark green and leathery leaves that are serrated, and white or pink flowers in autumn that are followed by red or orange fruits that look like strawberries. It is a Mediterranean tree that can grow in dry and well-drained soils, and can also tolerate heat and drought.

  • Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.): This is a group of non-native evergreen trees that can grow up to 25 metres tall and 10 metres wide, depending on the species. They have aromatic and lanceolate leaves that are green or blue-green, and flowers or capsules in summer or autumn that are white, yellow, or red. They are fast-growing and exotic trees that can grow in poor and sandy soils, and can also tolerate heat and drought. They are also good for firewood or coppicing.

  • Magnolia (Magnolia spp.): This is a group of non-native deciduous or evergreen trees that can grow up to 20 metres tall and 10 metres wide, depending on the species. They have large and glossy leaves that are green or bronze, and flowers in spring or summer that are white, pink, or purple. They are ornamental and fragrant trees that can grow in rich and moist soils, and can also tolerate heat and sun. They are best planted in sheltered and sunny sites, away from frost or wind.


Consider the purpose and preference of your garden

The final factor to consider when choosing a tree species for your garden is the purpose and preference of your garden. You want to choose a tree that suits your needs and tastes, as well as the style and theme of your garden. You also want to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each tree, such as the flowers, fruits, nuts, seeds, wood, or wildlife they provide or attract. Some trees can have multiple purposes and preferences, while others can have specific or niche ones. You should always choose a tree that you like and enjoy, and that matches your vision and goals for your garden.


Some examples of tree species that are suitable for different purposes and preferences are:

  • For flowering and fruiting: Crab apple, cherry, mountain ash, magnolia, and arbutus are some of the best tree species for flowering and fruiting in an Irish garden. They can produce beautiful and colourful flowers in spring or summer, and edible or ornamental fruits in autumn or winter. They can also attract bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden, and provide food and shelter for them. They can also be used for making jams, jellies, pies, or wines, or for decorating your home or garden.

  • For hedging and screening: Holly, beech, hornbeam, and yew are some of the best tree species for hedging and screening in an Irish garden. They can create a dense and evergreen or semi-evergreen barrier that can provide privacy, security, and noise reduction for your garden. They can also be shaped and trimmed into different forms and styles, such as formal, informal, or topiary. They can also provide habitats and food sources for birds and mammals, and enhance the appearance and value of your garden.

  • For timber and firewood: Oak, beech, Scots pine, and eucalyptus are some of the best tree species for timber and firewood in an Irish garden. They can produce hard and durable wood that can be used for furniture, flooring, or construction. They can also produce high-quality firewood that can be used for heating or cooking

2 views0 comments
bottom of page