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Ornamental Trees in Back Garden

Hi all

I've got a tiered back garden with the first tier being a patio, second being a grassed area, and third being decked with a playhouse for the kids, trampoline, shed etc.

I want to plant some trees towards the back of the grassed middle tier to almost create the effect of a mini "wood" for the kids to run in and out of as they make their way up to the decked area at the top tier.  The trees will also act as a good screen for the rather unsightly trampoline too!

My questions are:

- The trees in the picture below look perfect but I haven't a clue what they are - does anyone know?

- Can you plant trees in large pots in the ground to stop them growing too big (I would want them to stay similar height to the below with not too big a spread as the garden isn't huge and I wouldn't want them taking over)?

- Can you get grass to grow right up to the trunk?

Any help much appreciated! Thanks




  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,942

    Just one thought - decking areas where you have the shade of trees won't be very good for a play area. Slippy as h*ll. 

    Anyway, apart from that!  Can't see the pic clearly enough to ID your trees, but there are trees which don't cast heavy shade, and that would make them more suitable for your purpose. Many of the birches (Betula) have a light canopy, and some have beautiful, ornamental bark, so they look good for a long period. Amelanchier lamarkii is also an excellent tree/shrub. It doesn't get too big, and has flowers in spring, berries in autumn, and great autumn colour. Again, a light canopy, so doesn't cast too much shade. Some of the crab apples, or apple trees on dwarf rootstocks,  don't get too big either, but it really depends on exactly how much space you have. They will all take quite a while to get big anyway. 

    If trees eventually get a bit big, you can always raise the canopy of them - that just means removing lower branches so that the 'top' of the tree is high, and you have more trunk exposed, allowing more light in. 

    Growing trees in pots can be done, but they will require a lot of looking after, so I wouldn't recommend it. Far better to grow something in the ground suitable for the purpose.

    Planting in the ground is infinitely better for the trees, but when you plant, clear a good area round the base - about a metre in diameter. Grass will just compete for  moisture and nutrients, and make it difficult to keep the grass tidy round the trees too. Prep the ground well with plenty of good compost and slow release fertiliser like blood, fish and bone, and once planted, and well watered in, apply a mulch of bark or something similar to help retain moisture, and keep well watered untill established, especially throughout the first year. Also - make sure they're properly staked.image

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    The computer generated image is probably a made up tree. But there are quite a few small upright Cherry trees worth looking at. It's hard to say which ones to recommend, as you do not state the spacings, especially the width of your garden. 

    But, Prunus Spire and Prunus Amanogawa have nice slim upright growth. Most ornamental Cherry trees have interesting bark too. With blossoms in spring and leaves starting out purple/green and changing to green in the summer, and great autumn oranges/reds, a popular choice for smaller gardens.

    Last edited: 28 October 2017 20:41:46

  • AJ1978AJ1978 Posts: 5

    Thanks for the replies guys - gives me a great heads up on the trees to use and the tips to avoid me making a mess of it!  Just for info garden is about 30 foot wide and the middle tier which will hold the trees is about 25 foot deep, but I would only want a small part of it to have the trees, maybe around 6 trees with around a metre between each one.  if that's a big no-no let me know! Thanks AJ  

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    If you are thinking about lining a row to create a forest feel and to block out the back decked area, then I think the Birch tree will be ideal. I'm concerned about the spacings, so think something like a Spindle tree might be better suited. It grows to a manageable height and width. Other trees may get too tall and wide, and block out light.

    Euonymus Europaeus 'Red Cascade', multi-stemmed tree with small yellow flowers followed by bright orange seed-pods. Mature trees have purple berries. Foliage turns a striking red in autumn. A tree that gives throughout the year. 

    But if you are prepared to lower the trees down to 3-4, there are more options. 

  • AJ1978AJ1978 Posts: 5

    Great thanks for this - yep I would consider dropping down to 3 or 4 if you think there are better options with this number? Let me know. Sorry so many questions am totally new to this! AJ

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    You could grow a number of trees, but I am recommending trees that can grow in a variety of soils. Provided they are planted in well and watered well for the first few years. There are a variety of Crab apple trees suitable for small gardens. Blossoms and small fruit in autumn, they are a delight for any garden and Adirondack is very upright if you don't like wide growth.

    Sorbus Autumn Spire also has an upright habit too but again, there are numerous Sorbus trees, especially the Mountain Ash, that flower and have berries in Autumn. A great all round tree that doesn't shade too much either.

    Two of my favourites for small gardens as far as I'm concerned. Hawthorn tree like Crataegus Laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet' and Crataegus Persimilis 'Prunifolia'. The sort of tree that sets a tone for a garden.

    Finally, Pyrus Salicifolia 'Pendula' the weeping pear tree. A tree that has character. White blossoms in spring and also ornamental pears in Autumn. The leaves glow even on the darkest of days and in autumn turning a coppery tone.

    You don't have to plant the same in a row, even a few of the listed trees with maybe a Birch tree will really add dimension to your garden. All these trees can be pruned and managed.  

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,462

    Only a metre between trees only allows each one to grow out 50cm (20 inches in old money) before they start to interfere with each others growth.  The only tree I can think of which might fit the bill by being that columnar is one of the flowering cherries whose name escapes me at the minute.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,462

    The old grey cells just started working again.  The tree I was trying to remember is Prunus Amanogawa, also known as the Flagpole Cherry.

  • Very nice indeed - thanks for all the help! AJ

  • Just caught up with this post.  It might be a better idea to have a beautiful screen, covered in your favourite rose or climber.  This won't take up much room, although it will be shady behind it - but it will be shady anyway if you have shrubs or trees.

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