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What to do with a small North facing area

I have a bit of an issue with my "front" garden, it's roughly triangular in shape 20m long and around 10m wide at one end and 2 at the other, with the house on the south side, a elm hedge on the north.


As you can see by the tree at the back (bastard service tree) the wind is strong and comes from the right of the picture (north) The hedge is not really up to standard, being elm and therefor deciduous it doesn't do much for privacy or wind reduction in the winter, and yes that is a trainline just on the other side, there is a gravel road inbetween but that is it.

There's a row of treestumps in the border that you can just see, and the lawn finishes just out of shot to the left and then it's house. I would like to keep some of the bluebells, winter aconite snowdrops and lillies that have appeared but the entire area is totaly overgrown in ground elder as well, so I am up for removing everything.

Does anyone have any ideas for hedging that will survive high and constant winds and be thicker in winter?

This is our only flat garden area so we would like to keep some of it open to sit on and eat out at as it's also the only area with evening sun.

Ground is slightly alkaline and poorly drained although not waterlogged. Position is Northern denmark think scottish highlands in hardyness. normaly 0 to .5 in winter dipping on rare occasion (every 5 years or so) to -15 The photo was taken at 8am at the end of may so it recieves plenty of sun for most of the day.


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,649

    The usual advice for that situation is Elaeagnus × submacrophylla (or Elaeagnus × ebbingei). I don't live far enough north to be able to tell you it's definitely hardy enough, but it is classed as 'H5' on the RHS website, which suggests it should be. It's one of the few evergreens that is able to cope with windy conditions and which makes a dense hedge.

    Common juniper is tough as old boots but can get a bit too big for that situation, unless you are a diligent hedge trimmer, and it needs a decent amount of sunshine. It doesn't do anything very interesting in the way of flowers or berries but it will stand any amount of weather and stay green.

    The other option would be holly (ilex aquifolium or its cultivars), which is definitely hardy enough. In a small space though the prickliness can be harder to ignore. But the variegated forms and the berry bearing ones are decorative when you need it most. I also find it plays nicer with other plants - it's not too greedy for food and water.

    Or a mix of the three might work well - an offset narrowly staggered hedge with the holly slightly back to the railway and the eleagnus and juniper to the garden side. Then the holly is bearing the brunt of the weather and others are hopefully stopping some of the prickliness reaching your grass.

    I should add all 3 will not like standing with their feet in water so you'd need to do a bit of work to get the soil draining reasonably well - they'll cope with 'moist' but not wet. One option may be to form a shallow bank and plant the hedge in the top of it - the traditional form for hedges round here where the ground is heavy clay and the rain is more or less constant.

    Last edited: 09 October 2017 09:36:37

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,674

    Thank you raisingirl. I hadn't heard of Elaeagnus × submacrophylla before. I like the sound of holy, It's not something you see round here very much and I don't need to get close to the hedge very often. I would love juniper, and it does grow up here but it is very slow growing isn't it? That elm hedge needs clipping three times a year and still spends most of the time looking terrible, and I'm pretty sure part of it is showing early symptoms of Dutch elm disease, apparently elms here get to around 10-15 years and then die.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,139

    If you can sort out the drainage issues you might consider taxus baccata (yew) which is evergreen and very hardy and can be clipped close and even back to brown wood, unlike juniper.  It is a very dark green but can be clipped formally to look very smart and solid.  There are golden forms available too.

    Another possibility would be escallonia which has small, evergreen leaves but also pretty blossom and grisellinia littoralis is worth considering.

    Last edited: 09 October 2017 16:46:53

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,085

    Yes - Eleagnus will be plenty hardy enough, as would common old Laurel. It doesn't mind cold, wet ground, although I'd make sure the Eleagnus had  better drainage if you go for that. 

    Staggering planting is a good idea, as it helps filter the wind better. It depends on the amount of ground you have to play with of course. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,649

    I can't grow either laurel or escallonia here - the leaves get burned off by the wind. We're in the south of England, but fairly high up - above 200m - so colder than you would expect. The main problem is we are completely open to the North westerly winds, which are very cold - straight off Exmoor - much more so than the south westerlies which are stronger but less chilly. 

    Holly, gorse and beech are the most common hedges around here, along with the usual blackthorn and hawthorn you get everywhere. 

    Yew grows fine and fast here. Juniper isn't especially slow growing IME - not as fast as Scots Pine but much quicker than Larch (for example). Rosa Rugosa do well too, but they aren't evergreen of course. Very pretty though - fabulous scent and huge rose hips at the moment so worth a few in a mixed hedge image

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    Consider Elaeagnus Umbellata, the Autumn Olive. It's a tough plant. Can respond to pruning and has other interests with late spring flowers and if warm, bright red berries in autumn that are edible, often used in cooking and full of vitamin C. Can reach up to 5 meters. 

    Last edited: 09 October 2017 20:32:42

  • How about  Cotoneaster franchetii - Hedge,  can be used as a hedge, can be clipped and has flowers for bees and berries for birds, can also provide nesting for birds, i am on north east coast of Scotland, grows and seeds well up here. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,139

    RG - I had an escallonia that struggled in Belgium cos of cold, wet winds in winter or bone dry and freezing easterlies from Siberia but I have one here that's doing fine.  Seems OK where it's warmer and it is recommended for coastal gardens cos of the small leaves.   Your plot sounds challenging.  

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,649
    Obelixx says:

    Your plot sounds challenging.  

    See original post

    It can be. I still haven't quite got the hang of what sort of climate tolerance I should be looking for. On the one hand I've got French lavender and night scented phlox surviving outside all winter and on the other hand cherry laurel turns up it's toes in a matter of weeks. 

    It's no fun if it's easy, is it?

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,674

    Argh no rosa rugosa thanks! I have probably 200-300m square meters of the stuff. Horribly invasive, actually highly invasive here, it's the plant that costs the most to the country to control. There is actually some just out of shot down the hedge as it were, it doesn't manage more than a meter in height in the winds we get here, but boy does it spread, the lawnmower keeps it back from the road at least.

    I'm going to have a look at what's avaliable overwinter as barerooted plants (costs) You had me a second with the scots pine and larch, I was trying to imagin them as a small hedge.. lols. Juniper and yew sound good, not sure if I can source them but I will try. If all else fails can always fill it in with Seabuckthorn, no ones going to go near the hedge then.

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