Forum home Plants

Screening plants that like shade - advice for novice gardener

Hello all,

I would like to plant some tall shrubs/other plants along our fence to provide some privacy from the neighbours. However, due to the position of our garden, this particular fence line is in shade almost all day long. I also don't want to plant anything that might somehow cause havoc on the neighbour's side.  

There is nothing in the garden yet; the previous occupants have left it entirely untouched. The soil seems to be dark and rich, with plenty of worms.  Our fence is about 1.6 m.  

Any suggestions for this beginner!? 

Many thanks in advance. :) 


  • How wide/deep is the border?  i.e. the distance between the fence and the path/lawn/whatever  ;)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,097
    Depending on the answer to Dove's query, some Viburnums are evergreen and they're happy in shade. They also have attractive flowers. Osmanthus is another shrub for shade, and it also has some small creamy/white flowers in late winter/early spring. Mahonia is another - Charity and Winter Sun are the two biggest. Tough as old boots, but lovely sprays of yellow flowers from late autumn into winter, followed by berries. Jaggy though - so it depends on your situation. Despite what the books tell you, Berberis and Pyracantha will also grow in shade, but are also jaggy. Not all the Berberis are evergreen, but they come into growth quite early. Again, flowers and berries, so great for wildlife.
    'Non flowering' shrubs which grow in shady conditions are Eleagnus, Ilex [holly] and the shrubby honeysuckle - Lonicera. There are various types of those, and they make a good hedge too. 
    All of those will get to a good height, but are also easy to keep tidy when and if necessary. All straightforward, pretty disease free and tough  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Posts: 3,854
    As asked by Dove, we need more details about the space that is available in front of that fence. Plus, is that fence yours, theirs or shared? What is it made of?
    If you have enough space, in order to avoid too common neighbouring problems, I would strongly advice planting far enough from the fence so that you can get in between the plants and the fence to trim the hedge.
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • Firstly, thanks to you all for responding! In answer to your questions:

    There is no border yet - it is only lawn, a completely new slate on which to start. 
    The fence is ours, and is made of wood.

    My vague idea was to create a straight border running parallel to the fence (maybe 1.5-2 ft deep), edge it, and then lay some kind of path next to it (possibly curving away towards the end, thus creating more border space).  Would you recommend more depth, in that case?

    "Workable" garden is approx. 9-10 m x 5 m, with another 2 x 4 m at the end where the shed and shed paving is (garden tapers).

    I had noted down honeysuckle and viburnum as possible options, so happy to see that corroborated. ;) 

    I would like to have a wildlife-friendly garden, but there is apparently a rat problem (only discovered when we moved in, thanks to info from the neighbours), and I'm not sure whether rats are attracted by the same things as other more welcome visitors?!

    Really appreciate your time; this new world is quite overwhelming for me, but I suppose I will learn bit by bit. :) 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,179
    As the others will probably confirm, a 2ft wide border is far too narrow for a line of shrubs, some of which could spread 4-5ft across, so you would be well advised to make a decent sized bed and as suggested leave enough room behind the shrubs so you can prune them if necessary.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,097
    Velvet -rose - if you can stick a couple of photos on here, that will help with advice too. The little icon which looks like a mountain is the place to start  :)
    If you can make your borders a little wider, that will certainly help, although the Osmanthus I have doesn't get too wide, and is contained as it's in a raised bed. It would be the same if you had a border edge. 
    Alternatively, what about a hedge - great for wildlife.  Beech and Hornbeam are great as they can be clipped quite tight - easily to the border width you would prefer. Although not evergreen, they retain their foliage over winter if kept under about 3metres/10 feet. Yew can also be kept tight, and is evergreen. We're coming into 'bare root hedging' time of year too - so hedging can be bought very inexpensively. Ideal if you have a long-ish stretch to plant up.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 7,869
    Just a word of warning... as your fence line is in shade [faces north], any plants like Honeysuckle, clematis etc. will scramble to the top and down the other side [your neighbour's] because that's where the sun comes from...

    Plant evergreen shrubs like Pittosporum, which can be trimmed... I don't worry about narrow borders personally.. even if only 2 foot wide.. as long as there is soil you can plant something, and you have access for pruning, whatever..
    East Anglia, England
  • Thanks, everyone!! Certainly lots to think about! 

    Fairygirl, would I have to worry about roots if I went for a hedge? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,097
    No - not in those ones I've mentioned  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Not the best photo, but the view from the decking. The fence in question is on the right. 
Sign In or Register to comment.