that's a really good question. The rows are a uniform distance apart, but they actually aren’t straight up and down - we’ve done quite a lot of work to make sure that the rows wind and bend around the topography. As the trees grow and the tubes eventually come off, this will give the woodland a really natural feel (if you look at Buttons Ramsey at Gateway Woods that’s a really good example of how this works).
By the nature of trees going in by hand, if we planted randomly we’d have a real mix of spacings and some would invariably end up far too close together. As they grew, they’d out-compete each other, and some would struggle - fairly uniform spacing maximises their access to light and nutrients. The way we plant is to optimise their chances of survival.
After a few years we’ll also have natural regeneration, when seeds and berries drop off of the existing trees and start to grow. This will give the woodland a more diverse structure, and will increase the element of ‘randomness’; we basically give the woodland the best chance of survival in its earliest stages of establishment, and later nature will help out with the rest.
It’s also a factor of knowing stocking densities – we know how many trees should go into a given area to achieve total canopy cover. If we plant completely randomly there will be dense patches and sparse patches, and natural regeneration will take much longer to achieve a closed canopy.