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Privacy screening- bamboo?


I am seeking some advice about how to gain privacy in our garden.

We have a large garden with views across the valley. Our next door neighbours have put in plans for a large side extension to their house. They plan to put in a large side window upstairs which will look directly into our garden. They have also designed a balcony at the back of the property, which will again look over our garden. The plans make it seem like a watchtower over our garden and we will be objecting on grounds of privacy. We think that we should be able to get the side window obscured however we are unsure about the balcony. 

My question is about how we can ensure privacy in our garden if their plans go ahead.
We have a fence between our properties and our views are not facing their house so we are happy to screen that area as much as we can.
With it being a first floor extension we need some height to the plants that we grow.
We have looked into the high hedge laws and think that if we were to grow a row of them at a great height that the neighbours will act on this law and make us cut them low which wouldn't privatise us.
We have looked into growing bamboo in a row and having the height shelter us from their view. 
We need whatever we plant to be 4 metres in height. 
We are aware that bamboo can spread and become a nuisance so if anyone has any advice on how to tame it that would be great.
Also, we are unsure whether we can plant a variety of different tall plants/trees or would this fall under the high hedges act? 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you


  • WilderbeastWilderbeast Posts: 1,415
    As far as I'm aware mixed species hedging doesn't come under the high hedges act. An unusual tree is Paulownia tomentose which grows from a 2ft sapling to about 12ft in 2 years has huge leaves (about 18inches across) and can be polled or coppiced yearly to keep at a height you want. Trees don't fall under the hedge act so are easy to put where you want without any comeback. 
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,944
    Windows overlooking your property will probably have to use obscured glass but check the planning application.  If the balcony is from the upper floor, you are going to need something closer to 5 metres high to obscure their view completely.  Unless you spend a fortune on mature bamboo, it will take some years before it is tall and thick enough to have much effect.  There are ways to restrict the spread of bamboo but I would look for other solutions.
  • We also have a neighbour who is still in the process of building a balcony/terrace from his back door. It overlooks ours as we are in a terraced row. We didnt want him to put a wall as it would have meant  7ft on our side,but only 4ft his side as we are on a hill. We are on good terms with him,and hes agreed to put railings or glass round his terrace. 
    We still therefore had the privacy question,and decided to solve it with large tubs of tall Bamboo. They cost about £40 each,but through last summer,I was very pleased with the effect.They obscured a direct view,were a nice bit of shade,and sounded good rustling in the breeze.  
    The whole truth is an instrument that can only be played by an expert.
  • Cambridgerose12Cambridgerose12 Posts: 1,134
    edited January 2021
    Could you use trees? That strikes me as an obvious alternative. I don't think the high hedges legislation applies to them.
    There are some useful issues mentioned in this document concerning 'tunnelling' and loss of light that might help you: design guide supplementary planning document part 1.pdf
  • Thank you for your responses.

    Cambridgerose12 that document is very useful, thank you. I think we have a case now that I've read that. 
    As for planting trees, that would be a good solution but it's the time they will take to grow. So, if their plans get approved they will probably start work right away and when I looked into bamboo it grows very quickly. 
  • delskidelski Posts: 274
    An unusual tree is Paulownia tomentose which grows from a 2ft sapling to about 12ft in 2 years has huge leaves (about 18inches across) and can be polled or coppiced yearly to keep at a height you want.
    Love this idea; 2ft to 12ft in 2 years is my kind of tree! Can you recommend any others with a similar growth speed? I have an inherited acer pseudoplanatus Brilliantissimum which is just too slow for me and I'd like to replace it with something better. At the moment I'm having to let the conifers behind grow taller to screen the windows but it just looks unruly and they need a nice trim into a straight line. I hope I'll be able to remove this acer intact and plant it somewhere more suitable.
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,678
    I think I would rather have something like a few clumps of Hazel than bamboo. They're reasonably fast growing and you can always buy large specimens at say 2.5-3m tall. You can coppice them on rotation to control the size and keep them bushy. (If you were doing that, it would make sense to buy half at a smaller size, and then coppice the larger ones as the smaller ones start to catch up in size).
    "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour". 
  • WilderbeastWilderbeast Posts: 1,415
    So some bamboos will grow very quickly, they will also spread very quickly unless you absolutely on top of them. The clumping varieties won't spread but they also tend to not grow tall as quickly. Bamboos are always seen as a perfect quick fix to screening however I've seen loads of disasters where they get out of hand, including down our street where a clump grew under a wall came through the pavement and eventually it came up in the middle of the road as well. Highway dept had to deal with it in the end with house owner landing a whacking big bill.
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