Find us at Poplar Tree Garden Centre, Hall Lane, Shincliffe

Our environmental policy

Since 1972 Poplar Tree has been at the heart of the local community as a family run, independent business. 

Everything we do as individuals and as a small business aims to grow our centre in a responsible and sustainable way, as part of the community we have served for over 50 years.  Generations of local families have trusted us for their gardening needs and we hope to continue to share our experience and love of the gardening with future generations. 

We believe that businesses and individuals all have a responsibility to protect our environment. Gardening in its essence is great for the environment; planting trees and shrubs helps to trap carbon dioxide, many houseplants remove other harmful chemicals from the air we breathe, and being in contact with nature has a whole host of other benefits for health and mental wellbeing.  This is why we’ve taken the lead with our staff, suppliers and regular customers, making protecting the environment central to our business.

We live in a changing world.  We work hard to stay ahead of government led changes in legislation and environmental regulation, while listening to the views and ideas of our customers and within our industry to stay ahead of innovation and encourage sustainable development.


Together with our employees, we observe a number of commitments, which are set out in the following statement.

  • We use local suppliers and produce wherever possible.
  • Our staff are trained in and passionate about the benefits of organic gardening and grow your own. We encourage customers to buy organic alternatives to common garden chemicals including organic weed-killers, pesticides and plant feeds.
  • We separate and sort our recycling for our waste provider to make sure as much as possible is recycled and reused efficiently
  • We actively promote the use of recycled products and materials.
  • We work hard when sourcing new product ranges to minimise the environmental impact of both production and distribution, as well as looking for products and suppliers which responsibly source, for example FSC wood and recycled plastics
  • We work extensively within the community including local nurseries, schools, charities and gardening groups to encourage awareness of the environment through education in the form of talks, demonstrations & garden centre visits for the younger generation.
  • Our regular marketing and social media content encourage awareness and responsible gardening. Our expert staff are always on hand in-store, online and by phone to answer questions and promote best practice
  • We have several bird feeders and houses at Poplar Tree to nuture & create a natural environment for wildlife & provide interest for our staff and customers alike. 
  • We work with local societies including the RSPB. 
  • We provide plants, materials and advice for other local businesses and organisations as part of dozens of new local gardening projects every year.
  • We have supported St Cuthberts Hospice for over 10 years as a way to acknowledge the incredible care they provide our local community, in doing so we offer support and donate items for their Memory Garden. 
  • We have recently had our traditional fluorescent lights around the whole site including the coffee shops converted to LED, this provides us with 80% more efficiency, therefore less energy use reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • We have an on site cardboard baler which allows us to affectively recycle all cardboard on site. All of our recyclable materials are baled and collected by a recycler, which diminishes any possibility of these materials heading to landfill, lowering our Co2 footprint.
  • Brambles also recycle all of their glass and coffee grounds.
  • We have reduced the percentage of customers using carrier bags and plastic liners by providing customers with reused boxes to carry home their plants as well as brown paper bags.
  • Working closely with Durham County Council BEEP, we will continue to look at ways to reduce our carbon footprint with regular energy use and waste disposal audits to make sure we are doing as much as we can to protect our environment. 

Peat Policy

Peat is harvested from peat bogs, usually upland areas particularly in Scotland and Ireland where over many thousands of years plant material in bogs dies but does not break down quickly, instead decomposing slowly to accumulate as peat, a nutrient rich soil.

Peat bogs support unique upland wildlife, act as a store for carbon and rainwater and releasing it slowly to the rivers. Because peat is made slowly, its extraction is happening faster than it can be replaced, so we are committed to finding other growing mediums with either reduced peat content or no peat at all.

The government aims to see a reduction and eventual phase out of peat in horticulture, both commercially and for home gardeners, by 2020.  This target is ambitious with very little public understanding of the issues and alternatives available. 

For over a decade we have been committed to supporting sustainable alternatives to peat, and stock a number of reduced-peat and peat-free products.  We have information available in store to help customers make informed and responsible decisions and will happily discuss alternatives.  We have personally tried and tested these products to ensure they are safe, look and smell fine, and have the same water needs and good rooting structure to grow quality plants. 


Plastic Pots

This year we began stocking taupe coloured pots as they have gradually become available from our plant suppliers.  These have been developed to be a standard colour and composition allowing everyone to recycle them efficiently and reduce the waste produced by horticulture.  With larger plants grown on from seedlings to larger specimens for months and sometimes many years before they are available to the public this will be a gradual process to prevent current socks of black plastic going to waste.  Many of our suppliers are gradually phasing these pots in and you will see them become a normal part of our plant area in coming years.