Deric Newman is general manager at Glendale Civic Trees.

In addition to enhancing the appearance of landscapes, trees provide a number of benefits to horses, as long as the correct species are selected, planted and effectively maintained.

Key benefits

Primarily trees are used to provide shelter – from the sun in the summer months, and cold, wind and rain in the winter.  When leaves are shed in autumn, it results in improvements to the soil fertility of the pasture, leading to a better nutrient uptake for horses.  Tree roots also reduce erosion, maintain water clarity and absorb nitrates from manure. 

Placement

In paddocks, the best place to plant trees is in the corner or just outside the perimeter of the area, as this makes it easier to fence them off from horses.

Positioning trees so they provide the maximum amount of shade during the hottest points of the day is important while making use of semi-mature specimens ensures trees are tall enough to provide shading straight away.  It’s for this reason Civic Trees was commissioned to deliver a planting project between the paddocks at a private polo club in Berkshire, planting semi-mature Fastigiate Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus Fastigiata) to shelter the horses.

Species selection

Here are Civic Trees’ top five recommended species for planting around horses:

  • Acer campestre (Field Maple) and cultivars
  • Carpinus (Hornbeam) and varieties
  • Fagus (Beech) and varieties
  • Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip tree)
  • Tilia (Lime) and varieties

There are some trees which should be avoided because they contain toxins with the potential to poison horses.  These include Sycamores, Red Maples and acorn-bearing Oaks, amongst others.  

There are also certain local factors which can determine the best tree species to use on a particular site.  A visit from one of our experts can provide further guidance.

Civic Trees specialises in planting large, semi-mature specimens (typically over 4m tall) which are already formed and shaped, leading to their development as fine trees at maturity with no technical pruning required.  Their size also means they have a greater visual impact on the landscape and are more ‘horse-proof’ than smaller, younger specimens.

Further considerations

When undertaking planting projects it’s imperative that guards, guying techniques and stabilising structures are safe for use around horses, which is why Civic Trees uses a bespoke, underground guying system, meaning there are no potential hazards surrounding the tree.  As with all planting projects, adequate aftercare programmes are essential to ensure newly planted trees can thrive, including watering pruning and feeding.

To find out more about tree planting click here or contact the team.