I have a large area of ground around my summer house. Space is not a problem! In order for me to develop a substantially large garden in the future (up to 2 acres) I have to firstly establish a good shelter belt. I have chosen (so far) pines with a mix of broadleaves such as Sycamore, Ask (Fraxinus) and Alder. The pines were only 2ft tall when planted (from pots) and the broadleaves were approx 3-4ft bare-root at planting. They were planted two years ago and despite some failures are just doing OK. Slow but gradually growing despite the occasional battering from winter storms. Do you have any suggestions ragarding adding other trees to this shelter belt? I would like to add at least another layer to the leeward side of this current planting in order to beef up the shelter belt and not have it grow as just a linear planting. But am I being too impatient? I would like to vary the mix of trees (coniferous & broadleaves) but the site is still very prone to damage from the severe Atlantic storms thay come form the south-west. Advice on choice of trees, planting patterns and maybe the need to be more patient?
Also, it is essential to have no competition from grass or weeds within a radius of 50cms of the stems of young trees.
You can thicken up shelter by planting more trees within the outer line. You can use native species such as holly and hazel on dry soil and grey willow on damper spots. Traditional shelter hedge plants, which can be left unclipped, include griselinia, Euonymus japonicus, escallonia, Olearia macrodonta and fuchsia.
You would be better sourcing trees from a forest nursery rather than garden centres which tend to stock garden material of larger sizes, and very few stock small plants of shelter trees.
You could also feed these trees in spring with a general fertilizer, about 30 per square metre, enough to boost growth on what is probably poor ground but not enough to make them soft and easily wind-damaged.