Trees and Palms in the Algarve

small garden in portugal

A simple definition of the word’ tree’ says “a plant having a permanently woody main stem or trunk, ordinarily growing to a considerable height and usually developing branches at some distance from the ground’.

Here in the Algarve we have a massive range of different trees, some indigenous and others that have crept in from abroad like some modern day John Tradescent. The trees endemic to Southern Portugal – olives, carob, cork-oak, were traditionally used to provide an income and not as ornamental species, although nowadays some ‘specimen’ olive trees sell for many hundreds of euros. Sadly, many of the plantations in Portugal and Spain have been dug up in favour of more profitable crops such as housing developments!

small garden in portugal

But over the years, those housing developments, together with new hotels and golf courses have re-introduced some of the traditional favourites as well as prompting the garden centres to supply new species, which have settled and thrived in this climate. But as the above definition says, “growing into a considerable height”, you must choose your tree locations very carefully. We have seen so many examples of trees being planted at a nursery height of 2 metres, close to swimming pools, below verandas, next to sewer pipes etc. etc. etc., Each year they get bigger and more attractive – that is, until the water meter is spinning around and you cant work out why, the pool starts to leak and your expensively laid garden terrace has lumps and bumps in it. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the roots have spread like wildfire in search of water and they’ve hit the jackpot! Unfortunately, there is only one winner in this saga – the chainsaw! The poor tree gets massacred and you are faced with the hefty repair bills.

So take careful consideration and professional advice before you give a permanent home to a tree that should outlive you and your descendants! If planted correctly, trees will provide great wind barriers, much needed shade, frost protection, boundary markers – and above all a beautiful showpiece for your garden.