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Plant advice for garden wall border

Hey folks,

I'm looking for some advice on what to plant against our rear border wall/fence which can grow and provide a backdrop to the garden. So far, I have looked into various shrubs and climbers, but after many hours of research I became overwhelmed by all of the different considerations :s

Below is a picture of our garden with some details added for context. 

More info:
  • The ground is very chalky. Under the top layer of earth is a quite dense layer of chalk.
  • The below picture is facing Northeast. The majority of the back wall/fence receives sunlight most of the day.
  • Ideally, we want to avoid anything that needs to be planted too far away from wall (under 1m if possible) or would vastly grow into the garden to avoid taking up too much grass space. We also plan to put a flowerbed in front of whatever we decide to put against the wall.
  • Evergreen or semi-evergreen is a must to provide some year-round foliage.
  • Gaining some extra screening from the windows behind would be a bonus.

Any guidance would be massively appreciated! Thank you!


  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,060
    Welcome to the forum, there are quite a few options for you to consider so don't despair!  It would help to know approximately how deep your soil is above the chalk layer as certain plants need a minimum root depth to do well.  You may find this link useful in the meantime: Chalky soils: plants for / RHS Gardening 
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • iMagineiMagine Posts: 3
    Thanks for your response, @Plantminded! If I can recall from previously planting our trees, the soil layer is no more than a couple of feet deep before hitting chalk. Perhaps less than 2 feet.

    I have previously had a look at the link that you've provided too. Thanks for that. We came up with a few options that might work with all of the conditions in mind (soil, sunlight etc.), but were still unsure:
    1) If we don't go for climbers, whether we could still plant these relatively close to the wall (under 1m) without damaging the fence or wall foundations.
    2) If we do go for climbers, whether they would grow far enough at the top to provide some screening from the house behind.
    3) What people would recommend in general :)
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,157
    I don't think you necessarily have to worry too much about the wall foundation so much as the effect of the wall on any plants. The foundations have a habit of sucking up moisture if your planting is a metre away l think you should be okay, but if possible (especially with trees) l would come out a bit further if you possibly can.
    I've had a look at the link that @Plantminded posted and my personal choice tree wise would be Cercis, Malus or Sorbus but of course it's really down to your personal taste.
    You could even have fruit trees .

    I think your wish for evergreen or semi evergreen trees maybe quite difficult to fulfil unless you go down the conifer route, but l'm happy to be corrected  :)
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Posts: 3,060
    Although many trees need a minimum of three feet of soil to do well, if you enrich your topsoil by adding lots of organic matter such as garden compost, farmyard manure or soil conditioner, you could plant more trees but accept that their height and spread will be limited as a result.  You probably don't want them to reach their maximum height anyway!

    On the RHS list of recommendations, for an evergreen tree I would consider Arbutus unedo, the Strawberry tree.  It has quite a contained growing habit so won't get out of control, with attractive green foliage and small white flowers on sprays which develop into strawberry-like fruit - blackbirds love them!  Another evergreen option is Western red cedar, Thuja plicata, a conifer but not like the thuggish Leylandii.  It will create a dense green screen up to a reasonable height, requiring pruning just once a year.  

    Although not evergreen, I would also plant a Buddleja for its flowers, scent and popularity with bees and butterflies. You could arrange a selection of these small trees and shrubs as an informal hedge, retaining the individual shapes of each plant so that they have more character. 

    I hope this helps and good luck!
    Wirral. Sandy, free draining soil.

  • iMagineiMagine Posts: 3
    Thank you both! I'll look into some of your suggestions! :) We really appreciate the help.
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