A woodland garden is a garden style that cannot arrive overnight, but you can have a woodland garden quickly by carefully planting the right species of plants. Facts and information are given on choosing a site, the soil, types of plants, and some helpful tips along the way. Your yard and garden will come alive with beautiful green foliage that provides a cool shaded garden for you and your family to enjoy.
Choosing a site for your Woodland Garden
Try to choose a site that will receive some sun at some point during the day. As the trees grow, they will allow sunlight to filter through them so that rays of sunlight comes in and highlights some of your plants. This is the perfect type of garden to place a shade gazebo.
Soils for Woodland Gardens
Most soils will be satisfactory for most woodland type plants. The soil should have enough depth for a good root run. Try to avoid thin soils that are over rock or chalk that is too close to the surface because the trees could become stunted and may die during a dry summer.
Trees and Evergreens in the Woodland Garden
The trees that you plant in your woodland garden do not have to be massive. You can create a wonderful effect in a corner of a medium-sized garden. A sheltered site will allow the young trees to grow quickly and form a cover. The main reason for planting trees is so they will provide the main shelter for the other plants in the garden. Later, when your trees grow larger, they will add value as a grove or wood.
A mixture of trees will produce a garden that is more interesting. Try to incorporate a lot of color and leaf shapes and plant textures. You can provide year round interest by mixing in evergreens, such as pine, holly, and spruce with deciduous species such a beech, oak, ash, and rowan. They will provide the interest and will attract a diverse range of wildlife.
If you are not in a hurry, you can plant young sapling trees called whips. Larger trees not only cost more, but they are slower to get established and may die from being transplanted.
Plant them 6’ apart and allow the trees to form cover quickly an d encourage them to grow with straight trunks. Dense portions can be thinned by removing the worst-shaped specimens and the least interesting varieties.
*Tip- During the first few years, keep grass and weeds in the vicinity under control to prevent your plants from getting choked out. This is best achieved by applying weedkiller or placing a 24” collar of old carpet around the base of each plant, making sure to water them regularly, since the collar will run the rain off.
The trees will grow and form a canopy that will cut out light and prevent weeds from growing. You will have leaves fall in the Autumn that means after a few years a layer of leaf mold will build up and act as a mulch as the leaves break down.
*Tip- In the early years, fence the woodland area with rabbit-proof fencing to prevent them from eating the young tree bark, which will stunt or kill the plant. Make sure that you fence the rabbits out and that there are none hiding in the long grass inside the wood when the fence is erected, or your efforts will be wasted for sure.
Plants for a Woodland Garden
Shade-loving ground covers an be planted as an underskirt to provide you with one of the most interesting parts of the garden.
Five Great Woodland Trees
- Silver Birch, Betula pendula- Deciduous
- Beech, Fagus sylvatica- Deciduous
- Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra- Evergreen Conifer
- Red Oak, Quercus rubra- Deciduous
- Rowan, Mountain Ash, Sorbus acuparia- Deciduous
Five Ground Covers for Woodland Gardens
- Cyclamen coum
- Spurge Laurel, Daphne laureola
- Japanese Spurge, Pachysandra terminalis
- Christmas Box, Sarcococca humilis
- Periwinkle, Vinca Minor
Incorporate some pathways that can meander through the wood and cross over the existing tracks, giving the impression of a much larger area. This is one way you can utilize a small garden space and transform it into one that appears to be much larger. Your path can be surfaced with peeled bark, chipped bark, and edged with cut branches or even logs. You can be creative here, but make sure what you use is a natural material.