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Screening trees for South facing garden

Hello gardeners, I’m hoping you might be able to advise me on trees for screening. I have just bought a Victorian terraced house which has a South facing garden roughly 35ft. The garden is overlooked by flats which make it feel quite exposed.

My concern with planting trees is that at the height they’d need to be to block the windows of the flats behind, would they cast too much shadow over the garden because it’s south facing? I don’t want to end up with a really dark garden.

if trees are a good option, does anyone have experience with using birch or magnolia to screen?


  • yorkshireroseyorkshirerose North YorkshirePosts: 574
    Birch are quite a good choice as their foliage is not dense.
    I also live in a terrace house with a long South facing garden and have the problem of shade being cast by 6 huge Scots Pines growing around a paddock in front of my house.
    I have had to plan the bottom of the garden to cope with this, especially during winter as it is a frost pocket owing to lack of light.
    A gardener's work is never at an end  - (John Evelyn 1620-1706)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,574
    If the aim is to make your garden feel private without blocking the light I would suggest you build a pergola over your seating area close to the house and grow some climbing plants up and over it - grapes, clematis, honeysuckle, roses would love the sunny aspect if you can plant them well in good soil rather than pots.   

    For the fence end at the bottom of the garden, instead of full size trees, consider some pleached trees which are like a hedge on stilts.   You can plant these inside the fence without breaking boundary height restrictions.  The stems/trunks will be bare up to shoulder or head height and then horizontal branches are trained to grow sideways to provide shade or privacy.  They should then cut the view from the windows so you and your children can play without losing light or too much ground.

    Have a look at this to see what I mean -

    More pictures here - 

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,448
    You may need to be careful about putting trees to block the view because you could also blocking light going into the flats.
    Contrary to popular belief most neighbours don't generally stand at their windows all day spying on you!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 33,314
    Welcome to the forum.
    I'd not plant trees, they'll do more harm than good IMHO. You're lucky to have a lovely sunny garden, why block all that lovely sunshine?
    I agree with @madpenguin. Your neighbours probably spent the same amount of time in the bedrooms looking at you, as you spend in your bedroom looking at them. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,254
    We’ve found that using pergolas and trellis screens with climbers give us much more privacy than trees ever could in a small garden ... without blocking sunlight from anyone 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,976
    I'd plant one (or maybe two?) lovely, light canopied, multi-stem birch and accept that there will be a bit of dappled shade. One might be enough just to reduce the dominance of those houses. It won't block light to the neighbour because they have a northerly aspect. (They will benefit from the trees, without the shade!)
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