The Queen's Green Canopy Project
Following the death of Her Majesty The Queen, and the wishes of our Patron, His Majesty The King, The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative will be extended to the end of March 2023 to give people the opportunity to plant trees in memoriam to honour Her Majesty.
The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. Everyone across the UK is being invited to plant trees from October 2021, when the tree planting season begins, through to March 2023.
The Queen's Green Canopy will create a network of individual trees, avenues, copses and whole woodlands in honour of The Queen's service and the legacy she has built. This will create a green legacy of its own, with every tree planted bringing benefits for people, wildlife and climate, now and for the future.
Her Majesty The Queen has sent a special note of thanks to those who have planted trees as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Project.
Thinking about planting? Here's what you need to know
While trees are a great way of supporting nature we do need to ensure we don't accidentally plant in places that aren't suitable. A few key things to think about are described below.
- Some areas of land have special protections or designations due to their existing wildlife or archaeology. Planting in these areas may be against the law. You should not plant trees on archaeological sites, places with rare or protected species, grassland that has never been ploughed, wetlands or heathland. To find out if the area you want to plant has any of these you can check online:
- Check for national designations - DEFRA's Mapping Site
- Check for local designations, such as County Wildlife Sites, at the Environmental Records Centre
- Historic England Website - or, if in doubt, contact the Cambridgeshire Historic Environment Services at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Peterborough City Council Maps
- Remember, if you want to plant at a school or other Council owned land, please get in touch.
- As trees grow they can sometime interfere with utilities and cabling. It is best to avoid planting over shallow underground services or beneath overhead wires. Where this is not possible, you could consider planting smaller species that are less likely to cause any issues.
- If possible, avoid planting too close to land boundaries. Tree roots and canopies can spread some distance away from where it is planted and can sometimes negatively affect the neighbouring land. To find our more about how big different trees can grow look at the Woodland Trust’s Guide to 31 Native Trees
- Find out what type of soil you have. This will help you to decide what type of tree would grow best. You should avoid planting on peaty soils.
If you would like to get involved in a planting project, but don’t have any suitable land of your own, then why not get in touch with schools, businesses or parish councils in your area to ask if they have a project you could join?
If they don’t have plans for planting already, you could also encourage them to take part.
In England, you do not need planning permission to plant less than two hectares (20,000 sq metres) in a low risk area. These are places that have no existing designations. Otherwise you would need an Environmental Impact Assessment from the Forestry Commission.
Subject to the above, you can plant on your own private land, but should always seek permission from the landowner if you want to plant elsewhere.
For schools and community groups thinking about planting at your school, please make sure you speak to the Council's Education team to plan your planting and ensure it is in a suitable location and the right species are being used.
This depends on the size of the tree to be planted - and remember, we need to consider the space needed for the tree once grown rather than the space needed while it is young.
If planting in a woodland setting then plant 3-4 m apart and if planting a hedgerow plant at 4 per metre in a staggered row.
This depends on the type of soil you have, but generally you should try to plant native species. Some examples are:
- On Chalk – beech, large leaved lime, bird cherry, yew, field maple hazel, or wayfaring tree
- On clay – common oak, ash, hawthorn, crab apple, hazel, wild cherry, dogwood
- On peat – avoid planting
You will most likely want to plant juvenile trees (saplings). These come in two types:
- Whips – normally 100 – 125 cm, although may be smaller
- Feathered/feathered whip – approx 175-250cm tall
The Woodland Trust can provide Free Trees for Community groups and schools. information on these are available on their website.
If you are not eligible for this scheme, the Woodland Trust also have a wide range of trees available to buy.
If you are looking elsewhere for your trees please make sure you purchase from a reputable nursery or garden centre. This will help to make sure they are free from pests or diseases which could spread to other nearby trees.
There are also various schemes and grants available if you would like to do some larger scale planting, including:
The tree planting season broadly runs from October to April, so you should aim to complete your planting during these months.
The simple steps for planting are:
- Before your trees or hedgerow whips arrive, mark out the location of your trees and make sure you’ve removed the turf or immediate vegetation (1m radius).
- Mark out your planting, leaving at least 1.5m between trees, then dig holes deep enough to allow all of the roots to be buried, then backfill the hole, pressing down the soil firmly around the plant
- Pop a cane in next to the tree and add your tree guard
A Step by step video is available to help.
When you plant your trees, you will need access to:
- Mower/secateurs to cut back vegetation
- Gardening gloves can be helpful
- Water - you want to well water your trees once they are in the ground
- Tree guards and canes – to support the tree and keep rabbits off so plants can establish. We encourage you to explore non-plastic varieties of tree guards: there are now lots of biodegradable options available and the Woodland Trust has been testing some of these on their projects.
- For getting younger people involved we recommend digging the holes before hand
A high proportion of trees that are planted may not survive without some looking after – following these steps in the weeks and months after planting should help to keep your trees in excellent health into spring and beyond.
- Is it alive? - If there are no leaves, look for green under the bark of twigs (scrape the surface with a fingernail or knife) and living buds. Fill in any gaps in the soil around the roots and use a foot to pat firm the new soil. If the soil is waterlogged, channel/drain the excess away from the tree. Look for pests and diseases.
- Keep trees well-watered - Trees often need a little help keeping hydrated for their first few years of their lives. This can be even more important if you experience a frost.
- Check your guards - Tree guards are intended to stop animals damaging young trees by eating the shoots and leaves or stripping the bark. Check the guards in spring and autumn to ensure they are effective (no bark missing, or twigs bitten or broken off) and not rubbing or cutting into the tree. – If a guard is inadequate, add more protection, e.g. a taller tube to protect against deer, or fencing to keep off cows and other farm animals.
- Check your stakes - In the first year of a tree’s life, you can stake your tree to reduce the chance of breakage from strong winds. When you tie the tree to the stake, leave room for the trunk to move and sway to encourage strong trunk growth. Check on the stake and the tie. It should allow the tree to sway, without rubbing on stake or tie. Does the tree still need a stake? Check this in spring by releasing the tie and if the tree stays upright, remove the stake. If the tree leans and the roots move, re-tie it to a shortened stake.
- Clear away weeds - Pull up or mow any grass and weeds carefully (to avoid root damage) for a radius of at least half a metre around the stem. After planting and for the next few years, you should check the tree in March or April to see how the tree is getting on.
The Woodland Trust has much more information on how to care for your trees on their website.
Details on how to obtain a commemorative plaque to celebrate the planting of Jubilee trees, which will mark the occasion for generations to come, are published on The Queen's Green Canopy website.
There is lots more information about trees and their care available online. Some suggested websites are: