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Overlooked garden - how many trees can I fit?

Hello! Last year I moved into a house, having a garden of my own for the first time! I love finally having a bit of space, but we are quite overlooked. Being overlooked doesn't bother me massively, but I do feel that the only thing I can focus on when looking out to the garden are the windows of the opposite house, and I would like to soften the rather bleak fence.

To shield the windows a little I would need trees to be 3-4 metres tall (if placed in the back border).

I would love some trees or shrubs, the more the merrier, and my question is, what would you recommend here to make the garden feel a bit more private (and green)? There is a young silver birch in the corner. I love plants and I still want to have space to plant perennials and grasses. The garden faces east, but gets plenty of sun. I am on clay. Each pence panel is 1.8m. 


  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    edited September 2022
    Congratulations on your new home - I hope you and your family have many happy years there.
    First, I'm not sure the birch is a great choice.
    They are one of my favourite trees - but not unless you have a BIG garden.
    It will get to about 15-20m high and about 10m wide in time and overwhelm the garden.
    There are several locally planted in small gardens and when they reach a certain height people have the tops cut off making them look ridiculous - they then spread sideways and look even worse.
    The roots will reach your house, but not necessarily cause damage.

    Whatever your neighbour has behind the fence in the right corner seems to fit the bill for what you're looking for. If you can get a close-up photo we'll be able to identify it for you.

    I'd suggest a couple of amelanchiers.
    A lovely shrub that will get to the height you want but no more.
    It's a mass of flowers in the spring, the young foliage is tinged with pink that turns to green. The birds love the berries and in autumn it has great colour.

    Welcome to the forum :)

    Amelanchier in my neighbours garden - smothering my little conifer..

    An alternative may be pittosporum - many varieties and they're all evergreen
    One of mine taken last winter

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,735
    My first thought was crab apple, or ornamental hawthorn. 
    Flowers in Spring, berries in Autumn, good autumn colour, never get too big, very good for wildlife
  • Hi @Pete.8 - thanks so much for the welcome and the suggestions!

    The birch is a variety called 'Trinity College' which is bred to not get bigger than 5 metres (in 20 years), so I'm hoping it'll be okay (as I adore silver birches).

    Amelanchiers are a great idea, they look lovely! Would you place them right at the back of the border?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,925
    edited September 2022
    I'd place an amelanchier further towards your terrace ... probably about where I can see the red handlebar of a ride-on toy.  That way persepective will mean that it doesn't have to grow so big before it provides you with real privacy when you're sitting out on the terrace.  

    Ours was just over 6 ft when we planted it and in a couple of years it was screening the house behind us nicely.  It’s a multi -stemmed A. lamarckii and should never get too tall for  this garden. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 11,135
    Oh good I'm glad you have a more compact birch - they are beautiful trees.

    I agree with Dove about the planting.
    You never want to plant anything long-term too close to a fence. It can damage it and cause annoyance to neighbours if it gets too big and overhangs their garden - see my little conifer above! (I've persuaded the neighbours to get someone in to tidy up their whole overgrown garden. The someone is a friend of mine so the amelanchier will be the first to have a severe pruning:))

    There's lots of options for you and as it'll be there for a long time take your time to choose the right one for you garden

    Billericay - Essex

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,925
    edited September 2022
    To explain a bit further ... in my photos above, the amelanchier is actually not much taller than the trellis-topped fence at the end of the garden ... if it was planted near the fence it wouldn't be screening D's house behind us at all for quite a few years ... does that explain what I mean?  If not please say so and I'll try another way ... it's obvious to me 'cos I'm an artist and 'get' the way we can use perspective ... but not everyone does.   :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • KT53KT53 Posts: 8,728
    Maximum of a couple along the back fence as you need to allow room for them to grow outwards as well as up.  They would need to be planted into the garden an absolute minimum of a metre and preferably further to allow for growth.  The most common mistake people make is planting trees too close to the boundary.
  • Thanks @Dovefromabove - that's a good idea about placing it closer to the terrace (our whole living area looks out on this view too, so it would be nice to get a bit of screening fairly soon). :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    You could also look at things like Sambucus [elder] Philadelphus and Cotinus. 
    They're really shrubs, but take on tree like proportions and sizes, and can be pruned to size if needed.
    There are dark varieties of the Sambucus and Cotinus, so that also gives a change in foliage colour.  :)

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

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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