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Small, overlooked garden, privacy & design ideas

Around 6 months ago moved into a new build house with a tiny garden. In additional to being small and awkwardly shaped it is overlooked from pretty much all sides, as you can see from the attached pictures. The developer had kindly offered to plant a second tree (a wild cherry to the left) to create a little bit more screening, but so far it's not doing too well and the leaves and branched are really weak. I'm hoping it's just the initial stress from being replanted and it would hopefully survive the winter.

We were initially thinking of planing some clumping bamboos just behind those two trees to create a better screening, but then someone suggested that we plant an evergreen trees instead, like 'Chinese privet', as it would then allow us to use the space below the canopy to plant some shrubs. They are quite a bit more expensive, though. Bamboos are quite cheap, on the other hand.

I should probably point out that the garden is south west-facing and gets plenty of sun, apart from the area behind the trees, where the brick fence is, there is no sun there at any time. We also live in the UK (South East), so there is not that much sun, regardless of the direction of the garden :).

Another thing to mention is we are definitely looking for a budget solution, possibly with the use of trellis and other types of screenings. Ideally whatever the solution we settle on, it would probably need to be around 4 meters high to provide an adequate screening.

I am completely open to any ideas and would highly aprreciate your suggestions.

View from outside the house / patio:


View onto the house from the end of the garden:


View from the parking lot:


Higher resolution pictures:

Last edited: 18 September 2017 11:57:41


  • Hi Jazzo.  The thing with bamboo is that it spreads in all directions and, despite being evergreen it will shed leaves throughout the year onto your garden.  It will work as a screen but it may also take over, screening and turf don't usually go hand-in-hand.

    I'd strongly advise watching this week's gardeners' world if you haven't already as they showed a small garden that was transformed beautifully and would provide the kind of cover you seek.  It's not a quick-fix but it might give you a few ideas that you can start on.

  • Hi Jazzo, I think the trees have grass too close to them and the roots are competing for nutrients. 

  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    I don't think trellis is an option as you already seem to have walls above 6 foot. I would give your trees a fighting chance as has already been said and clear a circle with a 2-3 foot diameter round each of the trees and keep it free from grass and weeds. Young trees will need regularly watered for the first year. It is almost impossible to increase the privacy in a small garden unless you build a pergola over all of it. You may just have to wait 5-10 years for your trees to grow!

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,236

    Be careful about that 'wild cherry' the contractors planted.... it was possibly one that was earmarked for a public open space, and might end up too big for your space.

    By the way, three of these pleached trees may do the trick, costs a bit to buy them ready trained though!

    Last edited: 25 September 2017 11:25:03

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,140

    You could ditch the suffering tree which is likely to get too big anyway and build a pergola round the back wall.  Screw some battens to the wall and attach trellis panels - wood or metal as you prefer - and then make a 3' wide border and improve the soil all along that wall by digging in loads of well-rotted manure and/or mushroom compost and then plant climbers which will cover the trellis and extend up over the pergola.  That should give you some privacy without cutting light.

    Bamboos en masse are desperately dull and far too dominating IMHO, even if they don't sucker and spread.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • I would say pleached trees too and they look nice

  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,854

    What an awful lot of brick walls! Sorry to say this, but your garden looks more like a prison courtyard than a garden. I do hope you will find a solution to make it greener.

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,140

    Walls are so much better than fences as they are sturdier and can be covered with plants or clever lighting to make them look really attractive and make the garden seem cosy and comfortable rather than small and overlooked.

    Beware of going high with too many plants or trees as you will feel too enclosed and confined.

    Have a look at some of the pictures here to get some ideas -

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    Going with what you say, and the area you live in, Solanum Crispum 'Glasnevin' , the Potato Vine will cover your back area in no time (maybe in one year). One plant planted in the back wall and trained lightly to go upwards and then fanned out over the top of the back wall in either direction, the shrub will want to still grow upwards. You will need to prune at intervals to the height you want. An undemanding plant that has blue flowers all summer and sometimes into autumn with semi evergreen leaves. Down side is it will always need pruning and pinning down to a strong trellis. Without a trellis, the plant will sit over the top of the wall giving a really cottagey look.

    The slightly tender but even more aggressive Solanum Laxum 'Album' can cover the whole perimeter of your garden if given the right conditions. Clusters of white Jasmine-like flowers will continue right through to autumn or even longer over dark semi-evergreen leaves tinged purple sometimes. Judging from the warm wall and protected base, both plants will thrive in your garden provided it is planted in well.

    These two shrubs can screen your walls and offer height. It could be a short term solution whilst you grow other shrubs/perennials over the years.

  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,674

    I think I would take those trees out, they are going to be way to large for that tiny space. a pergoda with seating area (paved) under it, maybe a small water feature, some shade tollerant planting, ferns and the likes, a couple of lights mixed in with them to give some interest in the evenings. and something nice and scented to scramble up the pergoda something with a fairly open growth habit or you'll be indanger of creating a cave!

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