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Tree bare stem length

Good morning!

I'm after a bit of help. I want to know if the bare stem / trunk of a young sapling (the distance between the top of the roots and the lowest branch) changes much in the following varieties. As soon as possible after planting out, we want a good 2 meters of bare trunk before the plant bushes out (to block the line-of-sight to neighbours, whilst loosing as little space at ground level as possible). I.e. we want 'lollipop' shaped trees. When shopping for standards we want to know if we can count on the bare stem extending much over the first say couple of years or if we need to buy standards with sufficient bare stem already...

Ilex 'golden king'
Vibernum tinus

PS I understand we will be able to trim the lower branches off to get this effect, provided the tree will keep growing directly upwards...

Many thanks! Michael


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,807
    Have a look at pleached trees instead - same bare stem but the upper branches are trained to grow on a flat plain across wires or a frame so they take up less space than a lollipop and are easier to get at and trim as needed.

    In either case, I would have thought bay was too slow and also not hardy enough to do this in the UK and doubt that viburnum tinus would be a good subject.  Have a look at Copper beech, hornbeam, lime (tilia not citrus) all deciduous but the framework of branches will give you privacy in winter.   Have a look at this 
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    edited November 2019
    Photinia red robin is a good fast growing evergreen tree so not too expensive to buy. I have seen them sold with 160 to 180cm clear stem for around £60 whereas pleached trees are lovely but cost hundreds,
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,180
    You could certainly form the holly that way, but I'd be inclined to let it grow a good bit first, and that can take a while. I'm not sure Viburnum would work, as they're basically shrubs, but it might be doable. 
    The trees @Obelixx mentions are the ones most commonly used, and work well. They adapt and respond well to pruning.
    You could use fruiting trees, depending on the aspect and conditions.
    Any standard will keep growing and give you a bit more trunk over time, but it's a very expensive way, usually, of doing it.
    @Borderline's comment re Photinias, shows how expensive it can be, as 60 quid  is nothing in these terms. They can indeed cost hundreds and hundreds for mature standard specimens, soif you need several, it's a big investment, and you need ot be sure you can maintain them. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,807
    Yes, it is an expensive way of doing things altho the RHS link I gave explains how to do it form young whips which are cheap but which require patience and several years.

    Another alternative would be to erect tall, 3 metre high posts with wires or wooden bars tensioned between the top metre or so to make a framework.  Builders' wire mesh for reinforcing concrete would be wheap, sturdy and discreet.  Then a good rambling rose or 3 could be trained over it.  Some, such as Snowgoose, Lady of the Lake, Malvern Hills are repeat flowerers.   Wisteria would very quickly grow to cover the framework or honeysuckle or clematis for colour.

    Depends on budget and style.  The roses and honeysuckle would be more cottagey.  Pleached trees would be more formal.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hi everyone, thank you so much for the thoughts! That's given us lots to think about..just to ask for now if we went with a Photinia red robin, which looks like a really great option, would it grow ok on chalky soil? We're in Salisbury and the rhs lists it as neutral / acid...our local garden centre say they do fine but just wanted to check...

    Thanks again!
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,688
    Photinia you mentioned will grow fine in chalky soil. It's usually the deciduous ones that are a bit more fussy with soils. Whilst Photinias are getting more popular for pleaching, and they can grow fast once established, they are difficult plants to transplant into the ground if they are already quite mature.

    If you go down this route, you need to bear in mind whether the area is exposed to cold winds. Many mature size shrubs are grown in controlled conditions, and tend to suffer a bit when planted without back protection.

    Photinias are tough shrubs when they establish and are adapted well to their surroundings, but, sometimes pre-trained shrubs are so large, they will require careful planting and watering for many years until they are established. It's always best to grow younger shrubs if you can be patient. Older shrubs can sometimes fail to 'take' even with a lot of care.
  • Thank you Borderline! This is so useful. We will take into account what you have said before ordering and make sure we keep on top of the watering. Thanks for the effort and time
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