R0C Registered User

Hi, I know absolutely nothing about trees/gardening so I'm posting here for some basic advice.

I have land in which I keep horses. One side of it is bordered by huge oak trees which I assume have probably been there for well over a hundred years to have grown so tall.

I want to plant a few more trees on one or two of the other borders to provide extra shelter for the horses during rain/bad weather.

I am only interested in evergreen varieties of large trees.

I may plant a couple of oak trees also, aware that they will not be very tall during my lifetime.

I know there are varieties of oak trees which are evergreen, in fact mine never lose all of their leaves - just thin out, but will evergreen oak trees thrive in an Irish climate? I imagine these will take a long, long time to grow, so I need another type of tree to grow alongside the oak also.

I particularly love huge, thick-barked trees like oak, sycamore and birch.

I hate fir trees so I'm straight away ruling these out. I also hate leylandii, they seem to take over everything. I don't want to lose half of my field because the trees are taking over!

I want something that will grow quickly (or that I can buy cheaply when it's been already partially grown) and provide some form of shelter as soon as possible for my horses, even if it's only to break the wind a little. Not willing to spend too much.

Not looking for a hedge, don't want anything that needs maintenance - this is for a field, not a garden. I want something that is appealing to the eye.

So are there any big trees that grow quickly and are evergreen or am I asking for too much?

Any advice at all would be much appreciated. I'm planning to go look in a garden centre (that has a huge range of trees) this evening so advice would come in useful for that. I'll speak to someone there also for further info.

Edit to add: I am not near the sea, I'm well inland, the field is relatively well sheltered already as the land is not too high up, and the soil is of very high quality.

R0C Registered User

Also, I might plant a few cherry blossom trees, anyone know how long these take to grow? I think they're beautiful.

I have to do some research first to be sure their petals aren't poisonous to horses.

thenightrider Registered User

Try get a Willow Hybrid these can grow 25 ft + in 3 years Or some other type of willow

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R0C Registered User

That's an excellent suggestion, thanks.

I hadn't thought of willows at all but I think they're a very attractive tree and I didn't realise they grow that quickly.

I'll definitely be looking at getting some of these.

What time of year would a willow tree be best planted at? I'm able to plant straight away if the season is right.

thenightrider Registered User

As far as i no you could pant it any time of year as long as it is not to cold.

R0C Registered User

Doh, just reading up on willows and seems they're not evergreen. I'll still consider planting some of these anyway as they're so cosmetically appealing, but I still need to provide shelter for horses, something they can stand underneath in rain. Are there any evergreen willows? I see mentions of them online but they only seem to grow upright. Something 'weeping' would be ideal for shelter.

I suppose if they have enough tightly knitted branches, they'll still provide shelter in time.


Perhaps I'm stating obvious, but horses eat many trees so whatever is planted may need protecting

R0C Registered User

I've already thought of that one luckily so have fencing up which will keep the horses far from the trees until they're at a stage where I can allow them to have access. But thanks for the input!

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I'm sorry but you're requirments are seriously limiting the nature of trees to select...

Native Irish evergreen trees which are not fir type trees will be limited to larger shrubs rather than tall trees, holly is one that springs to mind.

I would advise a shelter belt of native trees where they will still give some shelter during their dormant period and lots when in leaf..

The best time to plant trees is Nov-March and plant them from bare root, cheaper, easier planted and will establish better..

Look around the surrounding fields in November and see just how few evergreen trees we have in our countryside...

R0C Registered User

Well if I simply say I need trees that will provide shelter to animals from the rain, does that open up my possibilities at all?

Even if I overlook my dislike for fir trees, I still don't see them providing much shelter other than a wind break as they grow straight up, I need something with more of an umbrella effect; something that has branches coming out of it that allows standing space underneath them when they grow tall enough.

Planting a shelter belt is a definite possibility and maybe if a tree has enough branches, it'll still work for rain shelter.

It's more the shape of the tree that's important than anything else I guess.


I doubt you will find many evergreen trees for the Irish climate that have a similar nature to the Evergreen Oak (Quercus Ilex) you have already mentioned..

However, you should get some specialist help on your request... Drop an e-mail to http://www.futureforests.net/ , they are very helpful and run an excellant service...

I'd also reckon that you're horses will be wet quite a few days waiting on any type of shelter to grow

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R0C Registered User

Spoke to a very helpful man at local garden centre just now who recommended poplar, going to look into this further. Still not evergreen but I'm beginning to give up on this as I guess there aren't any big trees suited to our climate that are evergreen.

Will contact the futureforests people too, thank you.

My horses are usually stabled through winter (November to end of April), and I guess it'll be staying that way.

Unfortunately they don't do at all well in stables, they're much happier outdoors, freedom to run, etc, so I was trying to find a workaround option for those days where it's not too cold but liable to make some showers. I was trying to avoid field shelters, I want something more aesthetic. If they had an option of being out in the field for some of the winter with some shelter to hide under should it rain, that'd make me (and them) a lot happier.

We'll see.. I'll keep looking meanwhile.

Apart from the horses, I would quite like some attractive trees to border the field as I plan to build a house on this same land in a few years and want privacy.

Srameen Registered User

To be honest I think you are looking for too many criteria to be met and for a very idyllic solution. Fast growing, evergreen, shelter, privacy, etc.

Trees generally cannot be rushed. Yes Poplar are relatively quick but not great shelter and can be a bit out of place in many a rural setting. A belt of birch, holly, oak, hazel etc is much more natural and eventually brilliant shelter but you'll have to wait on it. Trees purely to provide shelter for horses is a very restrictive subject. Any tree gives shelter to some degree. Evergreens are few and far between if you want something that will provide shelter. As they mature most don't have a decent canopy.

looksee Moderator

Why not make a natural shelter of those log slices that you can get from sawmills quite cheaply, then plant local trees - sycamore, ash, oak, holly, wild cherry (looks more natural than the urban ones), horsechestnut, beech/copper beech. Beech, sycamore and horsechestnut have very good canopies.

jezko Registered User

Nothofagus dombeyi (False/Southern Beech)

Nothofagus cunninghamii


I have some growing and find them of similar habit to a Birch in that it's not a solid wall of foliage But remains evergreen, Grow in Groups to Provide a more Natural look than individual.

Eucalyptus are more evergreen trees.

You will still have to Provide a shelter/ Temporary lean too, No Matter what Trees you finally select unless you plant "semi-mature" trees it will take time to grow into adquate cover for you livestock.

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