Community tree giveaway on 5th February 2022

A community tree giveaway, part of the council's Sustainability Strategy...

On Saturday 5 February, Veolia in partnership with Watford Borough Council will be holding a Community Tree Giveaway where Watford residents, schools and community groups can come collect trees to be planted in gardens and on private premises. The event will be held between 10am to 4pm (while stocks last) and will take place in Cassiobury Gade car park, Gade Avenue, Watford, WD18 7LG.

This event will help the council, residents and community groups make Watford a good place to live for people and nature. It will help us to increase tree cover across Watford from 18-20% and absorb carbon dioxide to help Watford become carbon neutral by 2030. This event will also contribute to Watford’s Green Canopy Project to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. We need your help to own, plant and care for trees across Watford.

When attending the event, we recommend that you bring your own bag which will help protect the tree until it can be planted. Additionally we need you to bring your proof of address in Watford (a utility bill etc.). The trees will be small samplings which will allow them to establish quicker, so they will be easy to carry. Due to this we encourage, if you are able to, to walk to Cassiobury to collect your tree.

A range of trees will be available for selection at the event while stocks last. All the trees are native species, sourced and grown in the UK and will help to support native wildlife. They are also all suited to a UK climate. We encourage everyone before the event to have a read of the different species before coming to collect your tree to have an idea of what you can plant in your garden.

The Types of Trees Available

  1. Blackthorn
    • Small tree 6-7m.
    • Early to flower in March/April with clouds of white flowers before it comes into leaf.
    • Good for hedging/discouraging unwanted intruder, as has thorns.
    • Early source of nectar/pollen for bees, food plant for many species of moths and butterflies
    • Provides a safe nesting site for birds.
    • Purple fruits called sloes, good for making wine and sloe gin.
    • Does not like heavy soil or dense shade, prefers free draining soils.
  2. Hawthorn
    • Small tree up to 12m when mature
    • Also known as May as this is the month when it produces an explosion of pretty pale pink blossoms.
    • Good for hedging and use in wildlife gardens and provides an excellent habitat for insects. Has thorns.
    • and a safe nesting site for birds.
    • Deep red fruit or haws are important food for birds and small mammals.
    • Tolerates exposed positions.
  3. Hazel
    • Small tree which can reach heights of around 12m if left to grow.
    • Traditionally coppiced when it can provide shelter for ground nesting birds and habitat for
    • butterflies. Hazel sticks used by gardeners, for bean sticks, hurdles and water divining, Very
    • good for wildlife and management of woodland habitats to improve wildlife diversity.
    • Male catkins produced from late winter/early spring before the leaves; hazel or cob nuts in
    • autumn are loved by people, squirrels and many types of birds. It has strong associations
    • with dormice.
  4. Oak
    • Large trees up to 30m suitable only for a large garden or landscape.
    • May live for several hundred years hence historic and symbolic importance to our culture.
    • The majestic oak supports more species than any other UK tree; supporting 2,300 species,
    • 326 species of which depend on oak and 229 rarely found on any species other than oak.
    • Produces one of the hardest, most durable timbers on the planet.
  5. Rowan
    • Small to medium trees grow up to 15m in height.
    • Widely planted as street or garden trees as attractive and light open canopy.
    • Leaves provide food for moth caterpillars and the creamy white flowers produced in May
    • provide pollen and nectar for bees and other insects. The red berries which follow are an
    • important and rich source of food for birds.
    • Historic association with protection against evil.
    • It can be susceptible to fireblight.
  6. Silver birch
    • Medium sized to 30m.
    • Often planted in gardens due to their being a pretty, light open-canopied tree with striking
    • silver bark. Allows other plants/ground flora to develop beneath the canopy.
    • Quick growing and tolerant of heavy, damp soil. Naturally a pioneer species, they are quite
    • short-lived (40-60 years), but can be used to improve soil quality and are hardy.
    • Symbiotic associations with specific fungi such as fly agaric and birch polypore.
    • Male catkins April/May.
    • Provide food and habitat for many insect species including aphids, ladybirds and birds.

Planting Information

The trees will be small and it’s essential they are planted as soon as possible once picked up so they are protected from drying out and/or frost. Remember to bring your own bag to make sure your tree is protected until you get it home. Make sure to keep it in the bag in a cool but frost free place if you can’t plant it straight away.

Before planting trees in your garden, it’s important to check what type of soil you have. Different plants suit different soils, and you may need to improve your soil before you start planting. First check the consistency of the soil – is it sticky and muddy (clay), or does it fall easily through your fingers (sandy)? Somewhere between the two is ideal.

To find out how to plant your tree, visit the Woodland Trust Website.

During drought conditions in the first two years of establishment, it is good to water fortnightly.

Are you a community group or a school?

We have up to 10 trees available per community group or school provided the trees will be planted in Watford Borough, so please come along to the event or if you aren’t able to, get in contact to arrange getting your trees another way. To get in touch you can email Veolia. Veolia’s Education, Communication and Outreach Officer can provide free education sessions on the importance of trees for school’s that want to get involved with planting trees on their premises.

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