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Trees that will tolerate shallow chalk or alkaline soils in exposed locations

There are a number of hardy trees that will be quite happy on dry chalk soils – many being native trees that have adapted to flourish on well drained shallow chalky soils and tolerate dry damaging winds.

On planting it is always sensible to stake and young trees, especially if planting on open and exposed chalk down land. You might also consider protection from rabbits and the worst of cold damaging winds, especially if you are undertaking more naturalistic planting of hedging or screening plants.

Always dig in plenty of compost and a sprinkling of fertilizer such as bone meal into the planting pit to give the young tree a good start. After planting always water in and use a generous mulch of bark or compost to help lock in any soil moisture. All of the above will help reduce the impact of drying that can so often damage young establishing plants; you will find this will become less of an issue as plants put out roots and provide for themselves, usually within the first year or two after planting. Always prefer to plant smaller younger plants in very opposed locations as these will establish more quickly.

There are also many attractive native trees that are tough enough to tolerate extreme exposed alkaline conditions. Such plants can provide invaluable shelter for establishing ornamental plants.

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Latin &
Common Name
EarmarkType & FormFlowers & Foliage
Acer Campestre - Field mapleAcer Campestre

Field maple
Tree, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushNon-flowering
Crataegus monogyna - Common HawthornCrataegus monogyna

Common Hawthorn
Tree, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - TreeWhite flowers (Spring, scented)
Quercus ilex - Holm OakQuercus ilex

Holm Oak
Tree, Rounded - TreeNon-flowering
Robinia pseudoacaia - Frisia - False Acacia, Black LocustRobinia pseudoacaia


False Acacia, Black Locust
Tree, EllipticalCream flowers (Summer early)
Taxus baccata - YewTaxus baccata

Tree, Conifer, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - TreeNon-flowering
Arbutus unedo - Strawberry TreeArbutus unedo

Strawberry Tree
Tree, Shrub, Rounded - TreeWhite flowers (Autumn)
Cotoneaster frigidus - VicaryiCotoneaster frigidus

Tree, Rounded - TreeWhite flowers (Spring)
Pinus montezumae - Montezuma pinePinus montezumae

Montezuma pine
Tree, Conifer, Rounded - TreeNon-flowering
Prunus spinosa - BlackthornPrunus spinosa

Shrub, Hedging & Screening, Rounded - BushDark pink flowers (Spring)
Sorbus alnifoliaSorbus alnifolia Tree, Rounded - TreeDark pink flowers (Spring)

You can use our plant-finder to find plants that match your garden conditions exactly, for example Trees that will tolerate shallow chalk or alkaline soils in exposed locations - click to give it a try!

Have you seen our other plant top ten recommendations?