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Is this a crazy solution for llandeii conundrum?

Hi All - this is my first time on the Gardner's World forum. I'm hoping to get on top of our front and back gardens this year but have a number of conundrums and no real experience so I'd appreciate any advice people can share. Instead of asking all my questions in one place I'll start separate threads I think.
For this thread my question is: what to do about this llandeii hedge as pictured?

The context is that we have a small land locked back garden which is approximately 15m by 10m (with our dining room jutting out into a chunk of the garden and also a large greenhouse too). I'm not sure when the llandeii were planted but they are very high now (5 meters?) and about 2.5 meters deep. I feel that's a lot of space to be taking up in our already quite small garden and it'll only get worse over time as they grow outward and are hard to keep in check without patches going brown (we cut then soon after we moved in and it's such a hard balance to cut back without getting brown patches).

I had wanted to bite the bullet and get them taken out but we would be massively exposed to the two storey house which is overlooking us. I think it would ruin the back garden for us being overlooked like that. I'm wondering instead about cutting the llandeii back severely on the front side and then growing a range of evergreen and summer clematis up it so they can use the hedge as a climbing frame. It would mean we wouldn't have to keep cutting the hedge back (from my reading online I think it would kill the hedge to cut it back this much?). The idea is that we would get a lovely green wall of flowers as cover from the house behind. I'm thinking of running a range of clematis so we have flowering throughout the year! We can't do much about the width from the trunks to the back fence but as you can see from the picture the hedge is providing a very useful informal wood store for a massive amount of chopped wood which will take us years to get through, so leaving that side of the hedge isn't necessarily a bad thing. Also I wonder whether not cutting back the side where the fence is would help keep the llandeii alive and stop the concerns I have about rot (see below).

From other threads I have read I'm worried the llandeii will rot as they die and they might therefore only last 5 years. This isn't ideal as a) could they subsequently fall down and damage the greenhouse/house? and b) I'm looking for a permanent solution. I had thought about growing a suitable tree in place of the llandeii but I really don't want to wait a long time to get good cover from the house behind as we need privacy in our garden now. We also don't want to grow another quick growing hedge as we find the maintenance burden of it on top of our jobs quite a hassle.

So after a long winded background (thanks for bearing with me!) my questions are:

-is this a sensible solution to the problem given that we need privacy sooner rather than later? 

- are there other solutions that meet our needs (high cover, no or very low maintenance, quick solution) that I haven't thought of?

- if we cut the llandeii back till it dies is the anything I can do to stop it rotting and stay up? In one discussion thread I read somewhere someone said they treated their trunks with oak preserver?

- if we go down this route how best can I give the clematis a fighting chance given the poor soil from the llandeii and also the wood pile (which we would need to move some of obviously to plant the clematis).

Really appreciate anyone's thoughts on any or all of the above questions and issues. Thanks! 

P.S. The house is a sort of rustic barn conversion so looking for a rustic'ish solution if not perhaps a full cottage garden feel. 
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  • BulbsBabyBulbsBaby Posts: 16


  • CloggieCloggie Posts: 1,457

    What an awful conundrum.

    Even if you manage to club them down to non rotting poles to grow climbers up, what will the climbers be growing in?  Dry, impoverished soil?


    How long will you be at this property?

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,853

    I think those leylandii count as a hedge and the convention is that hedges should be a max of 2m high.   However, if your neighbour isn't complaining you can probably leave them that high for a while and just trim back the side growth as far as possible whilst staying in the green bits.  Once you cut back to brown stems and foliage it will no longer re-grow.

    However, if you can, I think the best solution is to bite the bullet and have them taken out, lock, stock and tree trunk and roots.   You can then re-invigorate the soil with plenty of compost and soil conditioner and plant what you like.   You could then maintain your privacy with a hedge on stilts or else tall posts with wires stretched between them to carry clematis and rambling roses or rope swags to carry the climbers.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053

    I think you have said it all - you value your privacy. Nothing you can plant or build will give you as much privacy as what you have. Unless you cover the whole garden with a pergola and grow something like Russian vine over it. 

    I would certainly get a tree surgeon in and take about 4 feet off the tops and get him to cut it back into a formal hedge. Also ask him to cut as far back into the green as he can on the front and sides. And do that every year. If you don't, leylandii can quite easily put on at least a foot of sideways growth every year. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 5,167

    Unfortunately, Leylandii are great for privacy screening - you would have a completely different outlook (and onlook) with them removed. Your garden, soil and light would all greatly benefit from the removal of the Leylandii but creating alternative may take some time and money. It may be worth asking your neighbours,who own the overlooking house, if you can view your garden from their 'side' to see if you will be overlooked as badly as you imagine. 

    I asked a tree surgeon to assess my row of conifers and firs to see how they could be tamed and managed to achieve the privacy/neighbourly/garden-health balance. I had some removed and the rest neatened and trimmed back. 

    I'm sure some others will have ideas for you...

    (posted before I read the post above: great advice)

    Last edited: 11 March 2017 22:24:14

    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • BulbsBabyBulbsBaby Posts: 16

    Thanks everyone for your responses. @Cloggie - yes it's the dry improverished soil that concerns me. I could use large containers I guess but I didn't really want to. We have loads of compost at least so I can dig that into the soil. I'm not sure how long we will be at the property - perhaps in the medium term so long enough to want to sort it really!

  • BulbsBabyBulbsBaby Posts: 16

    @Obelixx - yes it is definitely a hedge. Luckily for us the owner of the property doesn't want us to remove the hedge or cut it down as it gives him the only bit of shade he has in his (otherwise very large) garden. There is no guarantee that a future owner would feel the same way though! I wasn't aware of hedge on stilt options and saw some good pics of that this morning -  great suggestion thanks! If we did tall posts with wires or rope swags are there any height restrictions for those? 

  • BulbsBabyBulbsBaby Posts: 16

    @ Hogweed - yes I think you're right, the privacy is the crux of it isn't it. I guess that's why I have been dithering about taking it out. I really dislike the space it takes up and how ugly it looks so I think I'd rather chop it down entirely than trim it and not grow stuff up it. Are there any good trees that are quick growing that could give good cover as an alternative?

  • BulbsBabyBulbsBaby Posts: 16

    @ all - if I did go down the clematis/climber route, what would your tips be to try and make a success of it?

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,853

    Good soil preparation.  Good choice of plants - research before buying.  Suitable supports.   Make sure they don't go hungry or thirsty in their first year while they're putting down good roots.

    Last edited: 12 March 2017 22:18:40

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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