Free Tree Scheme 2023

Our Free Tree scheme is run in partnership with the National Forest Company.

The Free Tree scheme is now closed for 2023 applications.

We’re interested in the reasons you have taken part in our Free Tree Scheme – we’ve included an option to tell us more on the application form.   

You can also get in touch by email and tell us why trees matter to you:

This year’s species are Holly, Hazel, Alder Buckthorn and Juniper. We are also hoping to have some sallow/ goat willow to offer to community groups to add to any hedges they have.

As in previous years, you can apply for two trees per household, or 10 if you are applying on behalf of a school or community group. Your household or community group must be based within the District of South Derbyshire. If not, contact your own authority (where you pay your Council Tax) to find out if they are running a scheme this year.

All the trees are two years old and approximately 30-50cms high, (please note – Juniper are 10-20cm high). We also supply information on how to plant and to look after them which you can download below from the related documents section.

Our ‘giveaway’ dates and venues are: 

  • Thursday, 30 Nov: 10-2pm Rosliston Forestry Centre, Burton Rd, Rosliston Swadlincote DE12 8JX (Parking £1.50/£4 - no need to pay to park if you are just collecting your trees)
  • Saturday, 2 Dec: 10-1pm Swadlincote Market The Delph, Swadlincote DE11 0AG
  • Saturday, 2 Dec: 2.30-4pm Whistlewood Common, Melbourne Common, DE73 8DH

• Please bring a carrier bag for your trees - we will label them and put them in the bag for you.

• Please look out for and follow any signage / other instructions.

• Please be prepared to queue at busy times.

Trees will be available on these dates ONLY, so please check you are available on one of those dates or find someone to collect on your behalf before you apply.

Please note: when you order your trees you should get a confirmation email within a few minutes

Unless there is a problem with your order, or we run out of trees, this will be the only communication you receive from us.

If you do not receive the confirmation email please email us directly: and we will check the database to make sure we have received your order.

Click on the link to order your trees up until 29 October, then write the dates in your diary because every year a lot of people forget to collect them! 

We have been running the scheme for many years and we would love to see any photos you have of trees you have planted in previous years. Please upload your photos to our Facebook page: ‘Environmental Education Project at Rosliston Forestry Centre’  or Tweet/ X them to ‘RoslistonEnvEd’.

What is on offer?

Information about this year’s trees:  

HAZEL  Corylus avellana

A small, fast growing, native, deciduous tree, that will grow to around 6 metres tall. It has edible nuts in autumn and bright yellow lambs tail catkins in February which provide essential early pollen for bees. A hazel tree can be coppiced to produce straight stakes for hedge laying, runner bean poles etc, but also makes a lovely small tree if left to grow. 

HOLLY  Ilex aquifolium

A medium to large evergreen tree that can reach 20m, but takes many years to grow. The holly is an attractive garden tree which can be trimmed to a neat dome shape if you wish. Trees are either male or female – with berries appearing in the autumn on the female trees (but only if they have been pollinated by a male tree growing nearby).

We can’t tell whether the young trees we receive are male or female.

ALDER BUCKTHORN Frangula alnus

A deciduous shrub, growing to 3–6 m, occasionally to 7 m tall.  The flowers are small, 3–5 mm diameter, star-shaped with five greenish-white petals, flowering in May to June in clusters. The fruit is a small black berry, which is not edible, ripening from green through red in late summer to dark purple or black in early autumn.

JUNIPER Juniperus Communis

 he Juniper is one of our native conifers and a great tree for gardens as you can trim it to the height that’s right for you. If left unchecked it can grow to 10metres high. It’s an attractive tree with bright green needles and purple cones, which look like berries, and can be used to flavour gin. Birds also enjoy them.

It's quite prickly and a favoured nest site for some of our smaller garden birds. Despite the prickles, some of our native moths eat the needles so it is a good all-round wildlife-friendly species.

Your new trees are two years old and approximately 30-50cm high - please note – Juniper are 10-20cm high). Treat them gently, as rough handling or being dropped can shock the roots, and it will take the trees longer to get established. 

When you get your trees home, store them somewhere cool, outside. Do not let the roots dry out, so keep them covered. They should be planted within a couple of weeks of receiving them.  If you need to store them for longer then give them a temporary home in a pot and remember to transplant them during the dormant season (Dec to March).

If you have a small garden or patio you can put each in a large pot permanently. The size of the pot will determine how big the tree gets, as once the roots have filled the pot the tree will stop growing. If you put your pot over soil, the roots will grow down through holes at the bottom of the pot into the ground so do be careful!

General planting advice:

• If planting directly into the ground, check distance from your own and your neighbour’s property

• Make sure your hole is big enough for all the roots to fit in comfortably

• Once planted, press the soil down firmly around the stem, making sure the roots are fully covered but that all of the stem is above the soil level

• If the soil is dry, water the tree when you have planted it. 

For the first couple of years: 

• Weed carefully around the base of the tree

• Water the tree during long spells of warm dry weather

Safe Planting distances (or put the tree in a large pot!)

Remember your neighbour’s property too, when you plant!

Safe planting distances depend on the depth of your foundations and the type of soil. Shallow foundations eg for conservatories and clay soil require the greatest minimum planting distance, making sure the tree is as far from a building as it will eventually grow in height.

If your foundations are deeper than 1m, or if you intend to prune the tree to restrict its height, you can plant closer to buildings than the recommended minimum distances. 

Recommended minimum planting distance from buildings:

Hazel: 5-7 metres from buildings

Holly: 7 metres from buildings

Alder Buckthorn: 3 metres from buildings

Juniper: 7m from buildings

OR as close as you want if you plant them in a large pot on a paved area!

You can download this information as a PDF here (pdf, 228kb). The document also includes planting and tree care information.

Source for information and images: Cheviot Trees, Woodgrow Horticulture Limited, the Woodland Trust and other advisory websites.

BELOW GALLERY (Hazel, Holly, Alder Buckthorn, Juniper.)


  • Hazel
  • Holly
  • Alder Buckthorn
  • Juniper