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How to Plant a Tree in Your Pasture

By   /  July 27, 2020  /  4 Comments

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About the author

Austin started Crow & Berry Land Management (CrowAndBerry.com) in 2017 with the goal of helping landowners do conservation that was also profitable. He started with streamside buffers in southeastern Pennsylvania, and when a client asked how to plant trees in his pastures, Austin started down a rabbit hole that just keeps getting longer and longer. TreesForGraziers.com and his current work in silvopasture is the outworking of that journey. When not planting trees he's probably reading about trees, though he's learned to avoid good tree books right before bed, or he'll lay awake half the night thinking. If not reading about trees, a good afternoon is swimming in the pond and eating wild berries with his growing family.


  1. emily macdonald says:

    Just curious as to what kind of trees are in the plantings in the photos and what are the spacings within the rows and between the rows?

    On the topic of animals camping under shade trees and over -manuring and trampling…is there any solution besides moving the animals to the next paddock before damage is done? Even if there are several trees in a paddock, my sheep will pick a favorite one and all lie there. If there are no trees they still pick a favorite place to lie to ruminate and rest and drop manure ,which occupies many more hours than grazing.

    • Austin Unruh says:

      Great questions Emily.

      The trees are a mixture of honey locust, black locust, persimmon, hybrid willow, hybrid poplar and mulberry. The honey locust and persimmon are primarily for dropped feed late in the season, black locust for prolific nitrogen fixation, and the others as sources of tree fodder.

      The spacing is rather tight in this one. Due to stipulations attached to the funding source, we had to hit 155 trees/acre. Since we used 40′ between rows, that means we need 7′ between trees in the row. Though it’s tight, it can definitely work, since many trees will be pollarded and lower branches will be pruned off others. If there wasn’t a density requirement, I likely would have gone about half as dense.

      I wish I could give you a good answer about getting sheep to move more, or spread their impact around evenly. It sounds like they get pretty attached to a spot and have a strong instinct to stick with the flock. One tree-planting option could be to plant trees in clusters, creating a grove that can accommodate the whole flock at once.

      I’ve included a link below to a resource on pollarding if you’re interested in learning more.


  2. Nina says:

    Thank you for encouraging more tree planting in pastures. Great topic. But I couldn’t see any trees! ? Just the white sleeve. How can the tree survive without leaves out in the sun?

    • Austin Unruh says:

      Hi Nina,

      I should clarify that. There are trees inside each of those tubes, enjoying a little greenhouse effect. They don’t get to spread their branches until they get to the top, but that encourages a nicer growth form.

      Tree tubes are pretty much standard practice in tree planting for conservation. Mostly they’re used to keep deer and voles away, and mark where the tree is so we don’t lose it, which is a big problem with small trees in an area of high grass.

      For pasture areas, we have to beef up the shelters a bit to withstand rubbing and browsing by much larger animals than deer, but the shelters are what forms the protection around the tree until it matures enough to fend for itself.

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