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Growing shubs close to fence to limit spread

Probably a very basic question. But one that is bugging me nonetheless. 

I have a small garden (3.5 m wide).  I want to put a few shrubs in my sunny border, but I have very little experience of shrubs and I always get scared off when I see ultimate spreads of 2.5 meters etc.  

A few of the shrubs I have availiable to me cheaply or for free:-

California Lilac (Skylark)

Choisya Ternata 

Mahonia Winter Sun (this could go in shade)

If I plant these close to a fence, will this effectively limit the spread? So for instance the choisya can supposedly grow to 2.5 m, if its planed 30 from the fence, will it only grow out towards the garden by a meter or so?

And also are these max sizes I see accurate? Is it typical for say a Choisya to get that big. I can't say I've ever seen one more than 1.5 M wide. Should I plan my planting based on the maximum size stated (for instance on RHS plant finder) or take the middle of the min and max sizes?  I don't mind cutting to size a bit but I'm wary that it might not be good for the shrub if I'm always fighting its natural habit. 


Last edited: 10 February 2017 17:18:39


  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,743

    I think that the shrubs mentioned, will grow too large for the size of you garden, but I am sure others will disagree.

    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053

    I agree with Punkdoc. Far better to plant things which you're not having to think of pruning before they  even start to grow.

  • Agree, all too big really, especially the mahonia which needs to be big to look good IMO.  The yellow Choisya Ternata 'Sundance' isn't as strong a grower as the normal one so might be OK, especially as they respond well to pruning.  Here's the RHS list of smaller shrubs to look through:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thanks for the advice all. I think I will go with the lilac and grow close to the fence. The mahonia is definatley a no then because I don't have anywhere it will go without spiking people.  The Choysia I allready have gifted. I'm going to try it in a 1.9 m border in the front garden and if pruning becomes an big issue I'll pull it out later, but at least it will make a good filler for a while.

    Thanks again


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    However hard you prune (Growth follows the knife) the shrubs will always win.

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