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Dumb Question Amnesty!

Hello - new to home ownership and gardening so would really benefit from some advice! Be gentle. 

I've just bought a great family home but there's one aesthetic / kerb appeal area I really want to address for my own reasons. 

Our tarmac driveway is separated from our next doors tarmac driveway by an unsightly strip of rock hard, stony ground about 50cm wide. The strip is owned by the next door property and the property currently doesn't have anyone living there. 

I want to create a natural barrier of sorts between the two driveways without entering into any border disputes and without the effort of trying to turn the stony strip into some kind of habitable environment for plants/shrubs.

It doesn't have to be pefect, it's more to create a proper defined area for us and for them.

So, I was thinking about buying some long, deep troughs and planting the right kind of trees/plants/hedge that will slowly grow well and strong over the next year or so.

It would be nice to end up with a natural green looking partition of sorts that was around 5ft in height and that I could maintain on a regular basis. I'm thinking these troughs need to be about 40cm deep but need advice on what trees/plants could be supported in such a trough and how much maintenance I'm letting myself in for.

Does anyone have any ideas on what thick bushy plants may form the perfect barrier for me in this regard? I've seen leylandii may do the trick but can't find how well it would thrive growing in a trough!

My worst case scenario is that I spend hundreds of pounds on plants/shrubs and I kill them through ignorance or lack of experience so recommendations of species that don't need an awful lot of maintenance would be very welcome!

Many thanks  




  • Get some decking planks and make a long custom made trough down the area where you want to create a barrier, it will look better than lots of troughs - you are creating a narrow raised bed. You can stain it any colour. 1-2 decking boards are around 12 inches deep each, so that is a decent planting debth.

    Plants - Camilla, Phormium, Tamarisk all come to mind that will survive in soil on the dry side and are evergreen.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,585

    If the strip is owned by next door, you are likely to have to move them when anyone new moves in.If you are going to the expense of plants, make sure they are either  disposable or on your side. A line of lavender would look nice, planted into the ground, but if the new owners don't  like it, you won't have lost a lot if they rip it all out and put a fence in.

    As for leylandii... NO, NO, NO.

  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Bobby, are you saying that you want to put these plants/containers onto your neighbour's property?

    The house may be unoccupied but it's not your land to do with as you please.

    I would advise you, in the strongest terms, to leave that strip of land alone if you don't want to start world war three when the owner sees what you have done.

  • GillyLGillyL Posts: 1,077

     Welcome Bobby

     I agree with Waterbutts Why not wait until the property is occupied and then talk to your new neighbours about it.5Ft does seem rather high for what you are describing anyway.

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,657
    Hi Bob wot about a few troughs with low lattice sitting on top and joining them up and some honeysuckle and clematis sort of thing growing along not to high just a nice pretty boundary that wont be upsetting anyone and not expensive Goodluck
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,016

    It's not your land to do anything with and you know it so I strongly advise you to leave well alone. 

    In addition, no plant is going to thrive and grow to 5' high in a mere 40cms of soil.  Any container planting would have to be fed regularly and watered every day in summer and protected from freezing in winter plus all the training and pruning to keep it to shape.

    If you want a barrier, just erect a fence on your side of the boundary and paint it an attractive colour - assuming there isn't a covenant on the properties about fences and barriers at the front.  I know there was one on the house I lived in in my teens.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Hello all - thanks so much for the response. Much appreciated. 

    Waterbutts, GillyL, Obelix - yes, I'm led to believe that this barren, strip of stony land doesn't belong to me but, as I was only thinking of placing a trough or container onto this strip, then if somebody had an issue with it in the future, I could easily remove them. I appreciate that everyone lives in different houses and has different perceptions of what is and what isn't acceptable but, I'm inclined to think this would enhance the kerb appeal of both our properties.

    However, of course, you are totally correct that my well meaning actions could be interpreted as illegal colonial expansion onto soil I knowingly hold no soveriegnty over. They may even fall out with me before I have the chance to present them with a bottle of wine and an explanation. On that basis, it may well be best to keep my counsel and wait for the new neighbours (no idea how long the house will remain not managed, not even marketed, if only some squatters knew!).

    Obelixx - OK. Makes total sense, if I'm going to grow something 5ft in height it needs a bigger container/pot/trough than I was planning. I'm willing to do some maintenance and even giving it hugs in the winter months to keep it warm but a fence on my tarmac requires professional installation and I have a feeling it could start to look a bit like a car port (which isn't the kind of look I had in mind)

    Blairs - thanks for the response but it's for the risk above that I don't feel I can over-develop the strip incase I have to later remove it. But you never know if the future neighbour feels the same way about the strip then this may well be the way to go. I have made a note of those plants as I like the 'evergreen' look.

    Verdun - Yes! Larger stone containers would look great (concerns about cost though...) and if I could get the right subjects (I shall add this term to my gardening vocab'!) then it would definitely give me the look I'm after. 3ft deep you reckon to support the root systems? (That's deeper than I thought...) Do you know if any hedge/type plants can be perm supported in shallower containers? 

    fidgitbones - Not looking to plant directly in the ground (I reckon you'd need a pneumatic drill or something to even go down a few feet!) but I take your point about Leilandii...  

    Alan4711 - I like the idea of incorporating a potential lattice somehow into the trough and growing something prettier than what I originally thought was just going to be a functional barrier of evenly placed shrubs/plants. I'll give it some thought.

    Thank you gardenersworld community for some excellent gardening...and common sense advice in such a short space of time!


  • waterbuttswaterbutts Posts: 1,214

    Bobby, you say that you are new to home owning. Believe me, boundaries (like driving) bring out the absolute worst in anyone's character.

    I have had neighbours who wanted to dispute the ownership of the 3inch wide strip of soil occupied between two 3 inch fence posts.

    I have seen neighbours go out in the night to move fence posts a couple of inches in their favour.

    I have had neighbours complain to me that I have removed a climbing plant from my side of my fence because their privacy has been reduced.

    You will have many boring and sometimes vexing discussions connected to boundaries. It's best not to start them.image

  • waterbutts - I hear you. There are some things you just don't want to risk with your neighbours. Probably need to sell my drum kit aswell image 

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