Trees are an important part of paddock scenery. They provide shelter for livestock from sun, wind and rain and the leaves shed in autumn help to replenish nutrients in the soil, feeding the grass to grow again.
If you are turning a new field into a paddock for your horses, or if you have some older trees felled due to age or wind, you may find you need to plant saplings. Here are some tips for choosing the right species and protecting them from your animals as they grow.
Trees to plant in your paddock
The ideal trees for pasture land are large, strong deciduous varieties with extensive foliage that will provide ample shelter to your animals. Types that are commonly recommended include Field Maple, Beech and Lime. In the past, Sycamore was also popular, but recent studies have found a possible link between the species and the disease Atypical Myopathy. Similarly, Ash is no longer an option as there are restrictions on new Ash planting to stop the spread of the tree disease Chalara. Acorns are toxic to horses, so Oaks should be avoided.
Where to plant
Planting trees in the corners of a paddock is advised to leave plenty of open space for horses to exercise. It is also a good idea to plant them in clusters so, when fully mature, they provide extensive areas of shelter. Near to hedgerows, they also help to act as windbreaks.
Protecting young trees
Left to their own devices, horses will happily destroy young saplings and can also cause considerable damage to more established, mature trees by chewing the bark off them. At one time, it was thought the only way to guarantee new trees would become fully established in pasture land was to keep livestock away for long periods. Nowadays, however, there is a greater understanding about how to protect young trees effectively so animals can still graze around them.
It is recommended to plant saplings that are as well-developed as possible in paddocks. This helps to avoid the risk of them being accidentally eaten as animals graze, and also means they will be more able to withstand bumps and knocks from horses walking into or pressing against them. The key, however, is to fit appropriate shields or guards to each new sapling to protect it as it develops. For example, these tree shelters provide rigid tubular supports which protect the sapling, help to keep it upright and also creating an insulated microclimate that promotes growth and root development.0 Comments