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Leylandii; hope for dense screen

Dear enthusiasts
i have planted some 4ft Leylandii. I want to grow a dense 7ft screen. 
I have tried before elsewhere in my garden and failed. I obviously pruned incorrectly. 
How should I train (Prune) them in the first few years? 
Do I remove the height so they get bushy. Or do I leave the tops until they reach the height needed? 
Really don’t want to ruin another attempt 🤣
Thank you 



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,255
    edited September 2019
    I’ve a feeling @glasgowdan has lots of experience of creating and maintaining good leylandii hedges ... I’ve given him a nudge and hopefully he’ll pop in with the information you need. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,135
    Cut a proper border first - all that grass in between will just die off anyway, and so will about a couple of feet in front of them once they get bigger, so it's a good idea to sort that now.
    Keep them well watered and add a mulch - bark or good compost - to preserve moisture.
    Keep them regularly and lightly trimmed, not going back into brown wood, so that they don't become broad and gappy, because they will if left to their own devices. That's the most important bit - you can tell by looking at it's  growth habit that it wants to be big and broad, so make sure you only take a little of the new growth off each time.

    You  can keep it at the height you want with a final cut when they reach that height. Make sure they don't get out of hand. I'm sure you're well aware of the issues leylandii causes if it's not kept correctly trimmed. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,448
    edited September 2019
    With Leylandii most people only think about the height and not the width.
    These are very close to the fence so the back will have nothing on it and once it gets above the fence and spills over to the neighbours or road side you could be heading for trouble.
    My Mum has a Leylandii hedge backing onto her garden,it sucks all the goodness out of the soil and has to be cut twice a year so she has to keep at least a 3ft space on her side free so her neighbour can access it.All that trouble and it is not even her hedge and looks ugly because the overhang has to be cut hard back and there are lots of brown patches now.
    Recently I saw a garden have the hedge removed completely,the 18" trunks were 3ft from the boundary fence and the total garden gained was about 10ft.This was a hedge that was pruned properly every year and kept very neat.
    Personally I would rip them out before they grow and put something in more suitable!!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • My last attempt failed 🤣
    I often drive by houses that have beautiful Leylandii hedges. That’s what I’m hoping for. Worst ways I can learn how to drive a mini digger 🤣
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,135
    Are you sure the ones you see are Leylandii though? 
    There are several  different 'conifer' hedges - most are easier to cope with than leylandii.  Thuja plicata, for instance, is a popular alternative, and can be cut back more easily.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • It's a superb plant and very easy to keep neat and tidy. I'd nip off the tops just now to the halfway fence rail. And take a tiny bit off the straggliest branches on the side.

    Overhang at the top is never going to be a big issue at all with that at 7ft as you'll easily be able to trim it once a year from ladders.

    Those tight leylandii hedges you see are often well into a couple of decades old 
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,315
    I agree with @glasgowdan. Ignore the naysayers.
    If you're prepared to look after it properly it can be as good as yew. The trouble is , folk neglect them until they're beyond salvation.
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,448
    I would still rip them out and put in something more appropriate and less troublesome!!  >:)
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,135
    I think a lot of the negativity is because people inherit them as monsters.
    I'm not overly keen on them, as I prefer something a little more user friendly, especially in a small garden, but they're fine if looked after from the word go. Great as a windbreak in a more exposed site too, as long as you have room. 

    Unfortunately, many people don't realise that they do grow very quickly   ;)

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

  • TopbirdTopbird Mid SuffolkPosts: 7,588
    Second all the above comments - those trees have insufficient space to grow. They need to be much further from the fence and need to have cleared and improved soil to flourish. However, I would rip them out and put in something else.

    I didn't buy a house that was otherwise nearly perfect because it had 2m high (very well maintained) leylandii hedges on 3 sides of the (reasonable size) garden. It was dark, oppressive and nothing else was growing there.

    I couldn't face the work needed every year to maintain those hedges. I didn't fancy ripping them out and starting again and I didn't even know whether or not the hedges would be mine to rip out. Also - what if they weren't mine and future new neighbours failed to maintain them? Small house surrounded by 20' trees? Legal disputes?

    No thank you - just too much hassle.

    There's a lot of prejudice against leylandii. If it put me off buying it might put others off buying your house in the future too. If you're in rented accommodation your landlord might have something to say on the matter. Lots of other good hedging out there. Worth thinking about..... 

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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