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Screening plants for shade with shallow roots

Hi there, hoping you could offer some advice....

I am looking for some evergreen plants that I can use for screening (to plug gaps in my neighbour's screening that are not evergreen) so need to grow fairly tall (6-8ft), however they will be going close to a sewer pipe (not over the pipe but about 1m from it), therefore I believe they will need to have fairly shallow roots. Having said this, our neighbours screening plants haven't affected the sewer line and are around 2m away from it. The soil is moist and doesn't get much sun - some parts are in full shade.

I've been looking at bamboo and interested to see someone locally selling Phyllostachys Aurea, so might give that a go.

Are there any other suitable plants?

Many thanks.


  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    If the sewer pipe is plastic roots shouldnt be a problem, its only the joints on salt glazed pipes that crack and allow roots in. 
    If you are planting bamboo you could install a barrier in front of the pipe.
    Some varieties of grass will grow tall although most are cut down in the spring.
    Some conifers are tall and thin.
    Photonia is evergreen and you can buy lollipop shaped ones.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,116
    I'd forget the bamboo, unless you want a different set of problems.
    How many gaps, and how wide? Is there a fence or something there too?
    Bear in mind that shrubs don't grow quickly. Anything that does, will need very regular care to stop it growing too big.
    Cotoneaster is easy, and trouble free, although not all are evergreen.  Despite most info saying otherwise, it doesn't necessarily need lots of sun. 

    A photo would help.  :)

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks for the advice so far. I've attached a picture - the red lines are roughly where the sewer runs and the red circles are the areas which need covering mostly, as the neighbour's bushes go bare in these areas over winter.

    On a side note, I will also be making the border wider by bringing it over where the sewer pipe is, so will also be looking for suitable plants to include at a later stage.

    Can I ask why I should forget bamboo? - what different problems could this cause?

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,116
    edited October 2020
    Not much room to put anything really. Cotoneaster that I suggested earlier would do though. 
    Or columnar Yew. A mature specimen would be very expensive though, and you need to be sure you can care for it properly to get it established.
    There's plenty of evergreen shrubs, but once they've grown to any size, they'd need a lot of trimming to keep them in a narrow space - Eleagnus, Viburnum, Holly [Ilex]  etc. They all grow out as well as up.  :)
    It will also be quite difficult establishing shrubs when there's so much other planting nearby too. It's competition for water and nutrients. 

    Many bamboos run. Very difficult if you pick the wrong ones. They send runners over large distances. The one you mention is one of those  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks for your comments and advice. I might stay clear of that bamboo then. I've been told that clumping bamboos could be a good idea though. Or perhaps putting some in containers at the back of the border to keep them under control.

    There should be plenty of space once the border is widened - it will eventually come past where the arbour is and we we're thinking of incorporating that into the border too, with some climbers. I just don't want to plant anything that could risk damaging the sewer.

    But for now, I just want something fairly tall and bushy to screen where the gaps are going to be. My other option would be to knock down the wall (it's my boundary) and extend the fencing all the way along back to the house, however this would be a last resort as I quite like the current foliage as a backdrop (just not the parts that are deciduous!)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,116
    Those bamboos don't do very well in containers either. Quite difficult to maintain them unless the containers are very large  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,324
    What about columnar holly or columnar euonymus? But I think you can choose something even bushier.
    If you want a clumping bamboo, choose fargesia. Phyllostachys runs.
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,116
    Plenty of choices mentioned for tall and bushy, but as I said already, unless you want to fork out for nature specimens, they'll take a couple of years at least, to get to any size.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,891
    edited October 2020
    As one who inherited and had to dig out a 'non-running' bamboo - hah! I can assure you they do run if they like the conditions. This one had run 3m in every direction by the time I inherited it - including under the neighbours patio where it was lifting slabs. They were really worried it was going under their conservatory...

    It took a concerted effort from both of us including a lot of digging and wielding of pick axes plus constant vigilance for the whole of the next year before we could declare it extinct.

    Just don't.....

    Personally I'd widen the border first and see how much planting room you have. Screening plants don't have to be planted right on the boundary & squeezed between the existing plants. You could opt for a couple of larger, more rounded shrubs on the centre line of your new border. That would give you more options.

    I agree that you're unlikely to have issues with roots and pipes provided the pipes are nice, deep, plastic ones. Do ensure you leave plenty of space round any inspection covers though.

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Thanks for the advice. We're still deciding what to do but are considering having some clumping bamboo in containers at the back of the border to act as screening and then planting some small shrubs and other plants in front. We've seen something similar in a nearby garden that seems to do the job.

    Does anyone have any ideas for other shrubs and plants that do ok in shade and partial shade that will be ok on top of the sewer? It's not plastic, it's the original pipe so possibly clay and is about a meter down from grass level. I just don't want to plant anything with long vigorous roots that could cause a danger of cracking the pipe.

    Many Thanks 
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