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Line of Trees for Screening

I know screening is a common question on the forum and I have found the previous posts interesting (I have used some ideas in this post) although I couldn't see any posts that specifically ask about a line of trees. 

The construction of a new housing development has begun that will wrap around the side and rear of our garden, and we would like to screen against it.  The access road will run tight by the side and rear of the garden and the houses that will overlook us will be three storey.  The developers are planning to add in four or five trees across the bottom of the garden just over our fence - no detail on the type of trees that will be planted although we presume silver birch or similar.

Our main concern is getting some height and coverage down the full length of the side fence, ideally with trees so we don't give up too much width at ground level.  We were thinking of a line of trees.  The length is over 11m, from the bench to the end of the garden.  We're happy to relocate any of the existing red robins and fig tree if needed.

The preference is for evergreen trees but not leylandii / conifers.

I have been considering a mixed line of Japanese Privet, Viburnum, Mop Head Maple, and Magnolia Grandiflora, all as full standard or pleached variety.

The spacing of each to be 1.2-1.5m probably more for the magnolia. It seems the Japanese Privet and Vibernum wouldn't have an issue at spacing around 1.2m.

We don't want to wait for trees to grow to give us this coverage, as even the building activity is intrusive so the quicker we can get some privacy back the better!  As such I had thought I would purchase trees already at 3m+ height, around £350 a tree. The Magnolia would be around £500. Magnolia's around here seem to do well (North Surrey), there are good, established trees in many gardens.

In total around 8 trees. 

I would be grateful for any thoughts on the project. I have seen recommendations for Barchum Trees, Paramont Trees also come a lot on google searches, has anyone had any experience of them?


  • delskidelski Posts: 274
    I used Mail Order Trees and they sent me a very nice malus 'red sentinel'. I can't advise you on planting a row of trees, but I planted it around 1m away from a prunus. Both young trees barely 6ft tall when planted, and I needed them to screen an area revealed when the neighbour removed some conifers on their side and then built an extension facing my garden. Maybe I planted them too close together but I'll see how it goes.
  • I've used Barcham both personally and professionally and been very pleased with the trees. I am also aware that in terms of tree establishment, places like Kew favour trees grown in air pots and Majestic Trees specialise in supplying trees in these pots.

    It's been a good few years since I've bought semi-mature stock but I think I'm right in saying it is only Majestic that offer a planting service and that comes with a guarantee. 

    You can visit Barcham and Majestic. Majestic were still allowing visits in line with Covid guidance a matter of weeks ago when I enquired on behalf of a neighbour.
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,831
    Avoid planting too near to your fence, otherwise it won't get enough rain to get established, and it's roots may eventually interfere with the fence.  This might mean sacrificing more of your garden space than you would like

    Very mature specimens are much harder to establish, and take more watering and feeding.  I know you want immediate cover, but being patient and buying younger trees will probably be easier and more successful in the long-term, and cheaper too.

    If you plant trees, then with the correct selection you might never have to prune them.  If you choose something like Privet, you will need to trim it several times a year.  Make this an important part of your tree selection, as cutting large lengths of hedge several times a year is a grind (we have about 30 metres of hedging!).  Be neighbourly too, consider what impact your trees will have hanging over their side of the fence, and will they have to regularly trim your trees that are obstructing their property in some way.  This sort of thing causes no end of disputes, and is best avoided.

    At the height you require, have you considered how you are going to reach whatever you plant, in order to trim them?  If it were me, I would either plant some pleached (Hornbeam, even though it's not evergreen), or a fastigiate/columnar form of tree, which won't take up to much ground space but will give height.  Finally, always make sure you fully understand the final size of whatever you buy.  Many a gardener (me) has planted a dainty sapling, only to find out that it has turned into a monster.  
  • Thanks for the information on Majestic as I didn't know they offer a planting service I will certainly enquire into this.

    What do you think on the pick of semi-mature trees we a re considering? 
  • Thanks @KeenOnGreen that's food for thought.  Directly on the other side of our fence will be a grass verge and then the road for the new development, so no direct neighbours as such although obviously we will need to be mindful what we choose.  We'll have a look into those tree types.

  • This has probably directed me closer to;

    Magnolia Grandiflora Pleached
    Pleached Prunus Lusitanica
    Ilex Aquifolium Nellie Stevens Pleached 
    With perhaps Viburnum Tinus Lucidum Full Standard
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,831
    Something to think about: when you have pleached trees, you will need to trim them regularly.  Whether you do it by hand or using a hedge trimmer, this will cut the leaves.  Some plants look fine when you do this (Privet being one example), but some plants look awful when you cut through their leaves.  You end up with lots of dead half leaves on the plant, which turn brown and look awful.  Portuguese Laurel is an example of this.  Magnolia Grandiflora has big, shiny leaves, and I imagine these would not look so good when cut with a trimmer.  It would be interesting to see if others on the forum have any advice about this.

    Thinking through little details like this, as well as what species you buy, will make all the difference in having a hedge which looks great all year round.
  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,586
    I would put a pergola in nearer to the house side rather than anything close to the fence. This side to your play area.
    Or use tall posts with trellis set high on it with climbing plants to screen. Something nearer to the house will hide high up windows from properties behind.
    I hope you can see what I mean.

    Well chosen climbers will do the job and take up a lot less space and be more manageable, and quite possibly faster cover, hiding power than trees and shrubs.

    I would wait and see what the developers plant. If you put trees in there may end up being too many. Why spend your money on something when the developers will hopefully do it from their side.

    If the trellis or pergola does not do the trick then you can change it and choose trees and shrubs.
    Another option might be a rope swag with posts .

  • @rubytoo Thanks for taking time to write a reply. I did see some other threads mentioning Pergola but thinking on balance it would take up a far bit of the lawn with small kids. Although they already have the play area! I think a Pergola would be something for us as a medium term garden project. 

    Near the house is bamboo in large pots for screening around patio doors. 

    The developers are currently planning to replace the fence and your suggestion on adding trellis is a good one.
  • On a general note, have you looked into getting compensation from the developers for any loss of value of your house? If you are being forced into spending quite a lot of money for screening trees, it could be a good idea...

    'I have been considering a mixed line of Japanese Privet, Viburnum, Mop Head Maple, and Magnolia Grandiflora, all as full standard or pleached variety.'

    My thought about this list is that you are including very different plants. The shrubs in the list will be unlikely to give you the same height as the Magnolia. Perhaps it would be worth thinking of your screening as two-tier, with a line of taller, possibly pleached trees covering the top and large shrubs infilling the gaps closer to the ground. 

    In addition to those you mention, or perhaps to replace some, I'd suggest:

    Cotoneaster, either lacteus or 'Cornubia'
    Viburnum rhytidophyllum

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