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Hillier Guide To Choosing Your Trees

To choose the right trees for your needs a number of factors need to be considered, including ultimate size and suitability, soil type and the climate and corresponding tree hardiness.  Here, we take you through the key considerations.

Tree Selection

1. Species characteristics

You want the tree with the ideal berry, flower, leaf, autumn colour etc. for you. Refer to the descriptions with each of our trees as they are factual, informative and honest. We have included colour photos or every tree as a picture is worth a thousand words!

2. Size of tree

Consider the ultimate size when fully grown. We classify as follows: Small (5-10m), Medium (10-20m) and Large (20m+).

3. Size after 25 years

The lifespan of various species can be anything between 30 and 300 plus years. With each product, we show the approximate size likely to be reached in 25 years in height x diameter spread.


Trees are sold by ‘girth’ size, with their girth measured in centimetres one metre above ground level (i.e. 12-14cm girth).

Semi-mature trees start at 20cm girth and progress in increments of 5cm, e.g. 20-15cm, 25-30cm etc.

Conifers and multi-stemmed trees are generally measured by heights in increments of 50cm, e.g. 350-400cm and supplied as a feathered or bush form.

Not all species are commercially available in all sizes. We can discuss your size requirements and availability when you contact us.

Soil Conditions

The vast majority of woody plants perform to best advantage in a good medium loam, moisture retentive but freely draining and with a pH in the range of 6.5-7.0.

In recognition of the fact that soil conditions on many site fall well short of this ideal, we have indicated those trees that are more tolerant of extremes:

Dry Soil

Wet Soil

Lime Tolerance

Few of the plants listed will do more than survive on very thin chalk soils

Hardiness Rating

The factors affecting hardiness are not well understood. We have assigned a rating to each plant, from 1 to 4, based on our experience and observations over many years.

Click on the hardiness rating on any individual tree for an explanation, or read our tree hardiness guide.