Poplar

Poplar trees are fast growing. They can create an effective privacy screen or wind break in a garden or smallholding and can be coppiced similarly to willow for a variety of uses. It is the fastest growing type of hardwood in the UK. Interestingly one type of poplar was the first tree which had its DNA fully sequenced. There is a lot of variety within this genus and the trees can vary considerably in appearance and size.

Growing poplar trees:

Poplars like to grow in low-lying areas of moist ground. The trees prefer a soil that has a pH between 5 and 7.5. The are useful as they can cope with very wet and boggy conditions. Unless the soil is very poor it is not usually necessary to enhance the soil through the application of any fertilisers in the first year.

Male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Catkins form and pollination is by wind. If you plan to plant poplars in your garden then the easiest thing is to buy young sapings, taken from cuttings, from a plant nursery or specialist supplier. There are several companies that sell such trees within the UK. Prepare the ground by removing any dominant weeds to reduce competition. Grass and weeds can slow growth considerably during the early life of your trees. Mulches around the young trees can suppress weed growth and make your job easier. Be sure to plant trees to the same depth that they were in in the pot they came in.

You should plant poplars in the dormant season between early November and mid May. Experts often say that it is best to choose to plant earlies rather than later within that season.

Poplars are best planted around three feet apart. If you wish to create a full barrier then you can do so by cutting off alternate trees at knee height after four years or when the trees are around 24 ft high. This will encourage bushy regeneration and create a more solid barrier.

If rabbits or other pests are damaging your trees then they can be protected with clear guards to ensure they survive this problem.

Why grow poplar trees in the garden?

Poplars could be a good long term solution as a wind break for an exposed garden. They can be a good solution for those looking to be more self-sufficient and can be a good form of biomass for use in the garden. Wood can also be used for making furniture and a range of other items. (Poplar is not so good for use as firewood however.)

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Populus e.g. Populus Nigra