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Flower border near a conifer hedge?

I recently moved to a house with a good size rear south facing garden on a corner plot. The south and west edges are mainly conifer hedges to a height of 12' and about 40 to 60' long with a couple of conifer trees about 20' high (and one lovely multi stemmed  upright willow about 30' tall). The other boundaries of the garden are garage, sheds and patio on the east side, my house on the north side then garden gate and 3 conifer trees to a height of about 20  or 30'.
I am thinking of reducing the height of the hedges to 8' or having them taken out altogether and maybe having some of the conifer trees taken out as they cast a lot of shade.
Alternatively I was thinking of creating flower borders within the hedge boundaries by about 4'.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated, especially re the cost of removal of hedges and trees.


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,701
    There's not much that will grow well (or at all!) in the root zone of conifers.
    When you take into account also the need to get to the hedges to clip them, it might be better to leave a pathway between the hedges and your new flowerbeds (it doesn't necessarily have to be paved - could be grass if it already grows there, or bark/wood chippings). 
    In terms of being beneficial to other plants it might be better to take out the hedges, but if they're well-kept already and you can keep them that way, they do provide privacy, a good windbreak and a green background.
    Swings and roundabouts really.
  • Thanks for your reply Jenny. I agree on the swings and roundabouts as the hedges have been neatly kept and do provide a wind break and privacy.
    The prevailing wind seems to come mainly from the west.
    I was thinking of leaving a gap of about 3' or so from the hedges before I start my border maybe with 6' trellis behind to support some climbing plants.
    The garden is mainly lawn at the moment and the grass fizzles out about 2' from the hedges.
  • OmoriOmori North YorkshirePosts: 1,659
    You could get things to grow there but it would require more upkeep. The soil would need to be regularly amended and regularly watered, as conifers are like hoovers. You will probably run into a lot of roots, too, but it’s doable. Just not ideal. 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,527
    I would get your conifers cut down to a reasonable height before they get far too tall and out of hand. 7 - 8ft tall is plenty, and if they border neighbouring properties, they shouldn't really be more than 6ft 6", the legal height for a hedge - especially conifers. 
  • Thanks for your comments Omori and Lizzie.
    The hedges are the height they were when I moved in at the beginning of February this year.
    Also my house has roads to the north, west and south. I have a neighbour only on the east side of the garden.
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