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Hedges and Raised Beds

gilmarro says:

Hi everyone. I'm a total novice and was hoping that some of you more experienced gardeners could help me out.

We recently had a new neighbour move in who has turned out to be quite a nasty piece of work. They have thankfully put up a 6ft fence between us but it's only a single row with gaps rather than the double staggered type and this means that it's not as safe or as private as I'd like. Since moving in three months ago they have been charged with threatening behaviour towards us and with allowing their dogs to almost tear apart our other neighbours dog. We have a toddler and haven't been using our back garden at all because of this as we don't feel that she's safe.

What I'd like to do is, rather than put up yet another whopping great fence, plant something that looks more natural and not so harsh.

I'd firstly like to plant in raised beds to give us some sort or immediate barrier along the bottom of the fence line and also giving a bit of distance and security between our little one and the dogs. This will also allow me to get a bit of a head start with the height of the hedging. 

I completely understand that this isn't going to be an immediate fix and that any hedging will take a few years to cultivate and 'bush out' enough to create a reasonable screen and that's ok although I would quite like something reasonably quick growing.

So, what would be the best kind of hedging to use? I've looked at good old leylandii and think there's just too many potential problems. Yew looked appealing until I remembered about the berries. So it has to be quite quick growing, evergreen create a thick(ish) screen and be child and pet friendly. 

Thank you for sticking with my ramble, and for any advice.

Sorry, I should also have asked - depending on the recommended hedging plant - what the ideal size of the raised beds should be.

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  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,030

    I wouldn't bother with raised beds - lots of work and investment and future maintenance.  It may be easier and more effective to string a decent wire mesh fence just inside your boundary and then plant borders or shrubs in front of that or train climbers such as roses or clematis or honeysuckle to soften it.

    If you really do want a hedge, I would plant directly in the soil.  The best time to do this is the autumn when you can get cheap, single stem whips in bundles.   This will give you plenty of time to dig a trench and improve the soil with well rotted manure or cheap potting compost if you have no garden compost.

    Evergreen plants will grow more slowly then deciduous but you should have a look at pyracantha which will have spring blossoms and autumn fruits and is very good for wildlife.   It also has thorns so will deter intrusions from the nasty neighbours.   If you keep it trimmed on the sides, it will thicken up nicely from the base.   Trim the top shoots back when about 12"/30cms below desired eventual height and the top will thicken up too.

    Deciduous hedges grow much faster.  Hawthorn will do 6'/180cms in one season.  Keep it trimmed top and sides and it will thicken up and be a perfect haven for wildlife.   The thorns will deter intruders.   Copper beech is another alternative.  It keeps its old leaves through winter and they drop off in spring when the new growth starts so sort of evergreen and no thorns.

    Hedges need regular trimming to keep neat but you need to wait till August when birds have finished raising their broods. If you intend to plant in front of it, make a path of slabs or chipped bark so you can access the hedge without damaging your plants.  

    Don't worry about thorns and your toddler.  Explain what they are and teach her to play safe.  It worked with our daughter, now 21 and a survivor of hawthorn, holly and pyracantha hedges plus all sorts of plants in the garden.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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