The climate is warming. By the time the trees we plant today are grown, we will be looking at a very different world. The Forestry Commission has therefore determined which trees would be best to plant for  the future. You can see their recommendations here.

There are basically six different types of soil:

  • Chalky – has larger, rocky, whitish pieces in it and it drains well; similar to sand; alkaline.
  • Clay – sticky when wet and hard when dry.
  • Loam – mix of sand, silt, and clay; drains well; tends to be blacker and acidic.
  • Peat – spongey, damp texture, more brownish than other kinds. Very acidic.
  • Sandy – large particles which feel dry and gritty
  • Silt – smaller particles than sandy soil; smooth texture, compacts easily.

Tests to Determine Soil Type:

Water test – to differentiate between sand and clay: pour water onto the soil.
if it drains quickly it is sandy
if it drains slowly it is clay.

Squeeze test – take a handful of soil and squeeze it:
if it is sticky and retains it’s shape when you let go it is clay
if it feels spongy it’s peat
if it feels gritty and crumbles it’s sand
if it feels smooth and holds its shape for a short while, it is loam or silt.

Settling test – place a handful of soil in a bottle of water, shake and leave for 12 hours:
if it leaves cloudy water with a layer of particles at the bottom it is clay or silt
if it leaves mostly clear water and most of the particles fall, it is sand
if it leaves many particles floating, the water slightly cloudy, it is peat
if it leaves a layer of whitish, grit-like fragments on the bottom and the water is still a shade of pale grey, it is chalky
if the water is quite clear with layered particles on the bottom of the container with the finest particle at the top, it is likely to be loam.


Trees for particular soil types

A good guide is to look around the area and see what is thriving.

In Chalky soil: Acer, Apple, Cherry, Crab Apple, Hawthorn, Hornbeam, Judas Tree, Mulberry, Pear & Whitebeam.

In Clay soil: Aspen, European Larch, Hornbeam, Norway Spruce, Poplar, Red Maple, White Ash, White Cedar & White Pine.

In Loam soil: European Larch, Green Ash, Norway Spruce, Poplar, Red Maple, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, White Ash, White Cedar & White Spruce.

In Sandy soil: European Larch, Poplar, Red Oak, Red Pine, Scots Pine, Silver Birch, White Cedar & White Pine.

In Peaty soil: Heather, Lantern, Witch Hazel, Camellia & Rhododendron

In Silt soil: Birch, Cypress, Dogwood & Willow


Acidic soil (Loam or Peat): Beech, Rowan, Silver Birch
Neutral soils: Large Leaf Lime
Alkaline Soil: Large Leaf Lime, Whitebeam

Wet soils: Alder, Birch, Goat Willow.
Heavier Soils: Blackthorn, Wild Cherry, Crab Apple, Dogwood.
Moist, acidic: Eared Willow

Any except sand: Elder
Any except Chalky: Oak
Any except alkaline: Sessile Oak

Biodiversity requires a wide range of tree types.

Trees which are particularly good at sequestering carbon: Bald Cypress, Black Walnut, Dogwood, Douglas Fir, Horse Chestnut, London Plane, Oak, Pines, esp. Ponderosa, Red, White and Hispaniolan, Silver Maple & Yellow Poplar.