Forum home Plants

What to plant under a conifer hedge?

Matt_Matt_ Posts: 46
Hi all,

Our next door neighbour have a 15 ft conifer hedge on their side of the boundary. I've tried growing hardy geraniums next to them with limited success, some stipa has done ok but I don't love it, and there's an inherited euonymous that exists there too. Everything else has just failed completely.

They had been making noises about removing the trees and putting in a fence, so I was planning to redo that bit of the border. However they've now removed just the first tree that was blocking their path and it seems the rest are here to stay. Very disappointing as from our side it's really quite hideous (see the picture).

Anyway, can anyone suggest plants that could fill the space between the path and the hedge? I'm not too fussed about colour or flowers, I just want it to look less barren. It's east facing, getting sun most of the morning.


  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,941
    Large plastic pots sunk into the ground (inside another pot of the same size/type for easier care is ideal), filled with nice compost and planted up with whatever you like that enjoys part sun.  

    Or somebody on another post dug a trench and lined it.. but it could be the death of the trees.  But maybe that isn't so bad, for you.  😉
    Utah, USA.
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    I used geranium claridge deuce in front of my conifer hedge in my last house. Also sowed some nastursiums which didnt do so well but the next year where they had self seeded some grew up the conifers.
    If that was my garden I would put up a fence panel from the trellis just past the first conifer to hide that ugly end. Maybe your neighbours will get fed up with it looking awful and take them down
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,254
    The only way to have real success is to build a raised bed. You can add trellis at the back as well, and have some of the clematis which enjoy drier conditions - alpinas etc.
    I'd agree about having something to cover the ugly end too, so you could bring it right down past that end. Fill it with decent topsoil, well rotted manure etc, and you can then grow loads of things.
    I have plants [a slightly raised area] under a conifer and a pine tree, but I also have loads of rain, so it doesn't dry out, and it's more of a wildlife/storage/compost area than a focal point of the garden, as yours is. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • If you do not want the chore of watering regularly by using pots I would lay weed matting down, top with bark and just live with it. Nothing thrives near conifers because the trees leach all the moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,821
    The conifers are sucking the life out of the soil leaving no nutrients or water for anything else to thrive so you need to fix that.

    One way would be to dig a trench, as mentioned, and backfill with barrowloads of well rotted manure which would improve moisture retention and fertility.  It would also involve severing conifer roots on your side and that would either have a detrimental effect on the conifers or stimulate them to send out new roots into your soil to seek the goodies.

    The other way would be just to lay on a thick mulch of well-rotted manure this autumn for the worms to work in over winter or do it now and fork it in yourself.

    The space is quite narrow so I'd avoid shrubs but you should be able to get some good results then with perennials such as penstemons - lots of colours from white thru pink, red, purple, blue;  eryngiums - steely blue flowers and silvery foliage; gaura; shrubby salvias; several of the digitalis family; scabious; erigeron.....  
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FlyDragonFlyDragon Posts: 834
    Have you considered putting your own fence up just on your side of the boundary?  Then you could put pots at the base of it. 

    They really are ugly aren’t they.
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 4,724
    I agree with @FlyDragon your own fence would screen them and if you put in large pots in front you could grow all sorts of plants. It’s surprising what you can do with big enough containers and the right soil. 
    I had similar problems years ago and was unable to plant anything because the soil was FILLED with the tree roots.  Even fine roots (packed tightly) couldn’t be removed to make planting-holes.

    in the end the owner had the trees chopped down and stumps ground out.  The small fibrous-y roots broke down and helped to lighten up the soil.
  • Matt_Matt_ Posts: 46
    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Part of the problem is the conifers overhang our side quite a lot so it would be difficult to put a fence in all along unless it was right up to the path. The overhang also compounds the dryness factor as it's in heavy rain shadow. Next door are going to fence up to the end of the hedge (where the first tree came out) so their side of the lower half will be covered if that makes sense. 

    I hadn't considered sunken pots or a raised bed to be honest, I will do some reading. I have some sleepers left over from doing the rest of the garden so a raised bed wouldn't be too difficult. Possibly a solution, as would using pots. I don't have many nice pots currently and decent ones don't come cheap. I was feeling quite defeated about it last night but a little more optimistic now.

    The real long game is still trying to persuade them to cut the rest down. They are nice people, this just seems a little bit of a blind spot so I'll keep dropping hints even if it takes a couple of years (and probably paying something towards getting the work done).

    Thanks all.
  • Matt_Matt_ Posts: 46
    Morning all. Thought I'd continue the same thread. So the neighbour has had the fence done, as planned they removed the existing fence panels and trellis you can see in the OP pic and replaced with a continuous fence. Looks fine and I'll be painting it to match the rest of my fences when the weather calms down. 

    Unfortunately the work happened in the three days I was away this week so I wasn't about to watch it, and a lot of my plants were damaged. I expected a few snapped stems but some have been totally flattened and two just cut back to the ground inexplicably. Very frustrating. Waved it off at first as mostly its herbaceous stuff that will regrow, but the main trunk of the small Korean lilac I have was half snapped too which is really disappointing as it won't regrow in a season so I'll be having words.

    ANYWAY... they've also dumped a load of sharp sand across the border. The soil is quite heavy, can I just dig this in or do I need to be shovelling it off the top? There's a bunch of broken concrete too so will be spending an afternoon getting that out anyway.
Sign In or Register to comment.