Help - Tree Required for Privacy

I have a 13m (l) by 5m (w) west facing garden in London, we are in a terraced victorian house with back to back gardens.  Two weeks ago our neighbour at the back took out all their trees, including a very mature 10m high oak trees, leaving our garden & house completely exposed. 

At the back of our garden we have a small patio area that is approx 3m wide, which butts up against a 1.8m wall and a small 1.8m shed.  I was planning on taking down the shed so that we have some soil to plant into.  I ideally need to put the tree in the middle of the back wall to provide the most privacy. 

I am looking at evergreen trees to grow to approx 4 -6m high to give us enough privacy, it would be in full sun, but is quite sheltered as all the other gardens on our side have large mature trees (cherry/apple/pear/oak).

I am concerned about growth of roots damaging the patio area.

Any ideas - so far looked at possibly getting a mature 3m tree - either photinia red robin, magnolia grandiflora, holm oak or holly full standard. But I don't know how much root space they need.




  • LizzybusyLizzybusy Posts: 75

    Oh goodness - was there no preservation order on the trees? Not much can be done now though even if there was.

    Photinia red robin would be a good choice. I have just moved into a brand new house and the developers (landscapers) have planed one about 1 metre from the front door of a nearby house. It is also next to the pavement - the house has no front garden to speak of. I don't think it would have been planted there if there was a danger of root damage to property or tarmac. It has grown very quickly - not sure how old it is but about 3-4 years and over 2M now. Holly can be very slow growing so check the variety. Magnolias are a bit soil fussy so check too. What about camellia?

    Would wooden decking be a better option than paving or hard surface? Or maybe a gravel surface?

    Just a few thoughts. My sympathies about the trees image


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICTPosts: 10,585

    Hello kate20. I have been in your shoes and I know the shock, dismay and fury such a thing causes.

    Hollies are a nice idea, especially for the year-round interest, but they tend to be conical with all the growth at their base for the first years. The magnolia sounds a better option. We have one growing next to our house (2 metres away) in our neighbour's garden and we have not noticed any special cracks in the house (other than the usual ones in an ancient pile of random rubble walls). Magnolia also prunes well.

    As Lizzybusy says, it is surprising that the oak tree didn't have any preservation order on it. I'd check with your local council about what size tree is covered by the regulations. They might have to plant a replacement at least.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 12,087

    I have a photinia next to a paved area and it hasn't caused any damage.

  • There's no reason why there should be a preservation order on a tree. A quick search of a council website will tell you the rules. Pansy and Lizzie seem more upset than you are!

    You've had the benefit of the quite large trees on the neighbours garden, but now that he's decided to use his own garden for something else it's time to forget that. At least you have the benefit of a solid 6-foot wall. I wouldn't necessarily go for evergreens - some are slow to grow and others are a bit thuggish. Hollies are OK if you don't mind the spiky dead leaves when you're pottering in the garden or walking around  in your flip-flops. The photinia is a good idea as a partial quick fix.

    I would look at breaking up the view rather than trying to block it. A group of a very slim-growing variety of silver birch would be a start. Plant odd numbers randomly two or three feet apart. If you buy 5- or 6-ft tall trees they will soon make height and look informal; their bark and leaves as well as their swaying movement will concentrate the eye rather than what's beyond them. You could also consider planting something much closer to your house as this will interrupt the view of your neighbour.

  • Invicta2Invicta2 Posts: 663

    As you are in London with its milder winters and hotter summers I think you could consider something more exotic. What about Arbutus andrachne , greek strawberry tree with fantastic red bark? For a fast growing evergreen consider Pittosporum tenuifolium. Laurus nobilis, the Bay tree will reach 4-6m in London and will take pruning.

  • kate20kate20 Posts: 2

    Thank you, thank you for everyone's time and advice, this is my first time using the forum and its so lovely to get help and advice. Good to know I was on the right track with photinia, while the holly is off the list as I didn't think about prickly leaves falling!

    I also love the idea of breaking up the view with silver burch & checking out the more exotic options too.

    Thank you feeling very enthused after all your help - will update soon 


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