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Hedging my bets!

FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
I've been trying to help me elderly parents get their garden into shape as it has become really over overgrown.
Sadly they been duped a couple of times by 'companies' saying they'll remove trees and shrubs but always find an excuse to they never do a full job and then don't come back.
My brother and I are therefore going to do as much of it as we can before engaging further professional help.
I'm going to fence most of the boundary but they love birds and want a hedge or shrubby boundary at the back of the garden. 
It'll have to give privacy because even though it's a back garden it actually faces onto another street. 
Slow growing, probably evergreen and low maintenance is key as their current shrubs are overrun with brambles and I'll be maintaining it but I won't be able to come all of the time. 
Phew! sorry for the long message! 
It's East facing, clay soil. About 6m long.
What would you plant along the back? 
Thanks! 
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  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,301
    Based on what you say, I think Choisya x Dewitteana 'Aztec Pearl'. Nice evergreen foliage and can be quite informal and natural looking if not pruned that often, and can reach a height of around 6-7 feet. If pruned once a year, can produce two flushes of flowers with nice scent too. Should be able to cope with heavy soil.
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
    Thanks @Borderline I don't know that shrub I will look it up... 
    Here's a pic of the garden now  if that helps. 
    Would you try and save anything in it? 
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,301
    I’m afraid it’s too far away to see individual plants/shrubs but they do look nice and healthy, so would be a shame to remove any. Most will probably need a yearly trim/shape. 
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 14,961
    If your parents like to see the birds then I would leave the shrubs as far as possible. A once a year tidy up will suffice (out of nesting season). If any of those flower, the rule is to prune down after flowering.  If you have loppers and gauntlets, cut the brambles as low as you can go now, then they will regrow, paint the new growth carefully with glyphosate gel, taking great care not to get it on your other plants.  If you can give a close up of each individual shrub, we can offer better advice. I see conifers which I wouldn't touch, something large leaved looks vaguely like a laurel which can be pruned more vigorously to give shape. Something deciduous and smaller leaved in between.   What height have you currently got?
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
    Thank you @fidgetbones for the advice on taking the brambles. My parents love the shrubs and so do the birds but the brambles are huuuuge!
    I will cut them down and try painting them as you say. 
    In terms of what's growing that I can identify, theres two laurels, two fir trees of some type, a pieris holding on for dear life, two buried rambling roses, and a viburnum in the corner which you cant really see from the picture.. There's also some sort of deep reddish shrub that I don't know.
    If you think it's possible to subdue the brambles without removing everything we will try that. 
    My brother is dead keen to get a chainsaw. I do worry. 
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
    Sorry, in terms of height most of the bushes are about 3 to 3.5m. The tallest fir is about 6m
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 14,961
    The laurels you can cut down as low as you want.  No good for wildlife. However I would use loppers.  I cut one down to a foot , and a year later it is back up to 5 ft, so they take some hacking.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
    Thanks that's good to know! I will get some loppers! Any recommendations? I've never lopped before! 
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 10,394
    Depends on how much you want to spend (so how much you will use them, really!)
    Definitely look for telescopic handles so you can extend them to get more leverage.
    They come in 'anvil' and 'bypass' types.  I would recommend the bypass type as the anvil type require much more effort to cut the same thickness branch.  Screwfix do a cheap pair for 14 quid if you're on a tight budget.  If you need to lop branches which are near the size limit of the loppers, it takes a lot of effort, so worth considering paying extra for a 'ratchet' type which give a mechanical advantage (but cost about 3 times as much.)
    You probably want to get a pruning saw as well for thicker stuff - the curved ones are great, even the cheap ones.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • FfoxgloveFfoxglove UkPosts: 436
    Just to give an update on this for anyone who'd like to know...the shrubs had to go once I got in there and discovered the extent of the bramble problem. 

    I am still trying to eradicate the roots of the brambles with glysophate but hopefully with a Bit of digging the area will be ready for replanting. 

    So far I have a crab apple and prunus to go in and lots of spring bulbs. 

    I'm hoping to leave some areas wild...a bit like a meadow border. 

    Plan is, we will erect a hedgehog and frog friendly fence along the back for some privacy. 

    Pictures to follow...
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