small trees to form an arch

Dear all,  I am hoping someone can help me on the right path to help me realise an idea I have but cannot seem to get off the ground with.  I need ideas and suggestions.

Firstly some background.  We live in a flat roofed bungalow about 14 ft high. At the front of the house there is a small path about 3 concrete slabs long leading to the front door.  I want to create an arch at the end of this path that we walk under to approach the front door.  My idea is for a single trunked tree opening into a wider top.  I would plant one each side at the end of the path and they would grow up and as they widen at the top, join, and form a kind of canopy/arch.  They would stand quite close to the house so cannot be to broad and as we do not want them to dwarf the house, shouldn't really grow to more than about 15ft.

I have seen arches created along and at the end of paths using hedging which is trimmed neatly and shaped into a doorway/arch which I like a great deal but feel that this wouldn't work because it would be too wide at ground level, and were it to work would need to be grown right up to the door.

There is always the open of buying an arch and growing climbers up it, but as I have a lot of climbers already in my garden I don't really want to do this.

Any ideas, suggestions, names of possible trees to further investigate, links to pictures, things to look out for etc would be greatly appreciated.



  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 24,622

    Hi Rob - when you say '3 concrete slabs long' what exactly does that mean in feet and inches? It sounds like the arch would be very near the house in which case trees of any kind are really out of the question as they'd ultimately be growing right up to the door. You'd need a good thirty feet or so at least to make something like that work and look effective I'm afraid. 

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

  • Hi Fairygirl.  I take your point and that is what I'm grappling with.  The path only runs about 6ft, but I do have the option of extending the path another 10ft if needs be.  It is only 2 slabs wide at present, but again I do have the option of planting the trees further apart.  I have a lot of room to move as the front of the house is a very open space.  I'm open to many ideas but as I'm starting with a reasonably blank canvas I'm trying to find a starting point.  At the moment on one side of the door theres a cotoneaster horizontalis growing up the wall and some hellebores at the base.  On the other side I have a herb garden.  All of this could be moved if I could get a solid vision in my head.  At the moment I only have bits of ideas. 

    I had been thinking of silver birch, or small cherry blossoms.  failing that I would have an evergreens like conifers that I would try to grow up and shape into an arch but I'm still stumbling for somewhere to start.   I have also been toying with the option of running hedging along the path either side of the door and growing it up and shaping a high arch, but again I'm not sure the pros and cons or feasibility of this and how long it would take.

    If the path is too short and close to the house, would a couple of narrow conifers work that could then be trained into an arch or would their roots run too far and they themselves grow to high to manage?

    All ideas most greatly appreciated.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 24,622

    I'm just not sure why you want an arch so close to the house. If the front garden's a very open space, why not plant a crab apple or ornamental cherry/almond down nearer the boundary? There's a house on a corner site near me which has hedging on the boundary and a cherry either side of the front gate forming an arch but the gate is around forty/fifty feet from the front door and is therefore in a suitable position.

    I'm afraid I'd only consider a wooden or metal arch for climbers anywhere near the front door. As for conifers of any kind  - the country's littered with houses where the occupants have to have lights on during the day because conifers have been planted a few feet from the front door and they block all the natural light. They might start off as nice little 'shrubs'  - but they grow...and grow.... image

    Sorry to rain on your parade Ron, but planting anything big, or potentially big,  that close to the house means constant maintenance to keep it to size (which often ruins the plant) ...and eventually  removal. 

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

  • No problem Fairygirl and thanks for your ideas.   I have a pretty much blank canvas and don't have a traditional front garden.  I've got ideas but not an overall vision yet.  I need your feedback to think about what approach I'm going to take.  I'm now thinking maybe a crabapple, or a cherry to one side and a little further back,  with an arch over the path might work.  I can move the tree(s) as close or as far from the house as I need to (but then have to think where to park the cars...).  Actually it'll probably be easier if I put a photo up and ask for ideas!  I'll do that later.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 24,622

    A photo would really help Rob - I meant to suggest that earlier image

    It's much easier to make suggestions if there's a visual to work with, and you'll get lots more help and advice as people that way.  image

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

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 14,741

    Does it absolutely have to be an arch? The trouble with most plants is that they have an irresistible urge to grow vertically so you will forever be persuading your trees to bend over.

    Why not go for something like a pair of Skyrocket junipers. They grow very tall and very thin and to about 15 feet high. Very dark green and striking.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,448

    How about a small laburnum arch? Just don't forget if you have small children that the seeds are poisonous, but children can be taught not to eat things!




  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 54,607

    That looks great Sue image  You could do  a similar thing with Wisteria .

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 4,613

    Someone close to me made a beautiful arch from 2 of those pencil Italian cypress trees. (or having now read the above post - Skyrocket junipers)

    I drove past it every day for years watching them being slowly brought together and after about 5 yrs it looked really good.

    Then 1 of them slowly went brown and died.......

    So worth bearing in mind to get trees that suit your conditions and are robust enough to take some weather extremes

    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • SalinoSalino Posts: 1,609

    ..I like fruiting arches, but if trees are required in this situation without a metal framework, then I might plant 2 cordon trained apple trees supported by bamboo cane until they are trained across the top... grow about 8 foot... I think they are pruned just once a year...


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