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Ideas for privacy trees/hedge on a budget!

Hello everyone,

Last year we moved into a new property and we have a blank canvas rear garden. The garden is sloped slightly and we are coming up with some design ideas using a bit of software called SketchUp. I don’t want to start any major development before we know what we want, to avoid having to revisit work etc. However, one area which I think can be done is the creation of the back fence hedging and border. I’ve attached some photos of the garden so you can get a feel for the area. 

Being on a new development we are overlooked from behind and we’d like to create some privacy using some hedging or trees. Some other properties nearby have opted for pleached privacy trees, which I think look nice and also allow for lower level planting of shrubs/plants. The downside to these pleached trees is that they are very expensive! We would need about 15 trees in total to line the sides and rear fence. I’m not too worried about having an instant barrier and happy for things to take time to grow. 

We do like the idea of having a standard tree which allows for planting other plants beneath and we would like some recommendations of types of trees that might be suitable. They also don’t have to be pleached but what we don’t want is something that is too big that dominates the skyline in years to come. 

I don’t mind a bit of work so if the solution requires maintenance that is fine. 

Hope someone can help and looking forward to your suggestions. 

Many thanks,



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    A simple hedge would be the cheapest solution, and, as it's almost bare root season, this is the time to browse the specialist sites and put an order in. 
    What you choose will depend on your preferences, your climate, your soil type, and the aspect. Things like Hornbeam and Beech can be kept very tight and narrow, and keep their foliage over winter, unless allowed to grow enormous. 
    You could add some trees which have light canopies, like Sorbus [Mountain Ash] or Amelanchier, which are very easy, reliable, and aren't fussy as to soil type and location. 
    I've used Hopes Grove nursery for hedging, and have no problem recommending them. 
    Alternatively, you could just have a row of something like those, and keep clear trunks on them to allow underplanting.

    If you want pleached trees, they require a lot of work and commitment if you're intending doing it yourself.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,394
    edited September 2020
    My inclination would be to take your time and dig out lovely curvy borders along the fences and use them to grow climbers for colour and perfume and/or espaliered fruit trees as and when you can afford them.   

    To break up the line of the fence and give you privacy with some form and colour thru the seasons I would plant a few small trees 2 or 3 metres in from the boundary.  This will give you perspective and angles to your neighbours' windows which will enhance privacy. 

    Have a read of these 2 articles.

    Autumn is the best time to plant trees and shrubs as the soil is warm and moist and their roots can grow well thru winter ready for all the energy they have to push out to grow above ground in spring.   Smaller specimens are cheaper than big ones and tend to grow faster whereas bigger trees take a year or 3 to settle and start growing. 

    Don't plant other stuff below them till they have established themselves and keep a 60cm radius of soil clear of grass and weeds round their trunks for at least their first year to give them a good start with no competition.  Water thel well after planting and thru any dry spells in their first couple of years.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for the very detailed responses. Fairygirl - to answer your question about aspect etc our garden is south facing but anything below the back fence line will effectively be in the shade from the fence all of the time. 

    Obelixxx - I hadn’t thought about fruit trees and I have to say I’ve just looked up what espaliered was. They look lovely but I’m guessing they wouldn’t be ideally placed on the back fence? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    What you have to bear in mind is, it's not a huge space, and if you have large-ish trees all the way round, your garden will ultimately be quite shady. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Yes I completely understand, I certainly don’t want anything that is going to be too big , just something that sits a meter or so above the fence line would be nice. My problem is that I’m not very imaginative but I know What like when I see it. Not really knowing what’s out there and being very inexperienced is half the problem which is why a lot of people get a designer in. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    The problem is, that it isn't easy to find trees which just grow to a particular height,  then stop. Your soil conditions, and climate will largely dictate that. 
    A tree that makes 3 to 4 metres, could reach 5 metres in some climates, or 2.5 in others. The sizes given are a guide only.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,394
    There are fruit trees such as Morello cherries which will be fine on a north facing fence and others which will be fine on a west facing fence but if you go for apples or pears you need to make sure they have pollination partners as most are not self-fertile.  You could also consider plums and apricots depending on whereabouts you are and how cold it gets.

    There's a clematis for every aspect in lots of colours and sizes - just avoid montana forms and the armandii types which can be thugs.

    Go and visit as many gardens as you can both in the NGS scheme and the NT and the RHS.  You'll get loads of ideas and info you can research and adopt and adapt and there's a wealth of knowledge on here too.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for your thoughts. I will do some research when I get home tonight. 
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