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Tree novice

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Comment from Deirdre


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Hi guys,

I'm a gardening novice and I'm researching tree suggestions to include in our border.

I like the idea of the 'goat willow ' for example but it grows to 12m when mature.

My question is (probably a very simple one): is there a way of stopping a tree growing to its full height of 12m through cutting and pruning? Can it be done or would it kill the tree?

Thanks guys,any help wold be greatly appreciated!

  • Views: 772
  • Replies: 5
  • Posted: Sun. 1st January 2012 22:10

Re: Tree novice

Reply from Carol

You can contain many things - but goat willows are more like weeds than garden plants. Isn't there something with more specific visual interest in one season or another, or that provides food for some interesting local wildlife that would be more valuable to your garden plan?

  • Posted: Tue. 3rd January 2012 16:43

Re: Tree novice

Reply from Ruskins Trees

There are plenty of options, when planting trees it is prudent to look at the mature size, even if that is decades off. It seems unwise to plant a tree that needs ongoing management to control size.

We are used to assisting people who approach us with " I want a tree, only not sure which one".

Let us know what you are trying to achieve from the tree (wildlife/native/flowers/autumn colour / upright / evergreen.....) and any personal preferences. This with your location, soil type and planting location (i.e. seaside/chalk/shade) and we can start a discussion as to your optimum tree.

Kind regards


  • Posted: Sat. 7th January 2012 18:06

Re: Re: Tree novice

Reply from Kitty Lloyd-Lawrence

I too am a tree novice. Can you help? Two dying elders are being professionally removed with stump grinding. Can I plant again immediately or should I wait till autumn? I will have two spaces of about a metre square and would like to plant trees suitable for a Japanese style patio garden. Soil is probably clay. Site is windy by River Thames opposite Kew Gardens. Patio and a low two course brick wall could be disrupted by roots. Do not want low branches as they obscure river view. Have been considering Japanese Cherry Mount Fuji (pruned to avoid low branches on garden path side - other side open lawn) or a Cornus Controversa, or Amelanchier Canadensis... I would like something with interest in each season and interesting branch structure. Would a Cotinus also work perhaps??

  • Posted: Sun. 24th February 2013 21:28

Re: Tree novice

Reply from Deirdre

Hi guys,

Thanks for your input! The reason I was researching the Goat's Willow was that I want to create a border/hedge around our house.

My main interest is in creating something that has alot of native plants and plants specifically to attract bees, butterflies and birds to the garden and also to screen the house from the road.

I am researching a number of plants but I find it very difficult to narrow my wish list down as each tree/bush can be beneficial in some way. Here are the plants I was thinking of:ESCALLONIA Donard Radiance
PYRACANTHA coccinea Red
PRUNUS spinosa
ILEX aquifolium
Common Dogwood Cornus Sanguinea
Common Privet Ligustrum Vulgare
Goat Willow Salix Caprea
Red berried elder sambucus racemosa
Butterfly bush buddleia davidii
Honeysuckle lonicera periclymenum
Alder Buckthorn Rhamnus Frangula
FAGUS sylvatica
Blackthorn Prunus Spinosa
Common Whitebeam Sorbus Aria

I know I can't incorporate everything into the hedge/border but I suppose it would be nice to have some colour or interest throughout the year. Any suggestions on what combinations would be nice from this lot?

I don't know what our soil type is, how could I find out?We are a few miles from the coast but it's not too exposed. Are there any of these plants that you wouldn't recommend for someone starting out?

Thanks a mill!

  • Posted: Wed. 11th January 2012 21:48

Re: Re: Tree novice

Reply from Carol

If you want natives then you have to leave out buddleia. It's also a bit of a thug and needs serious pruning most years to keep it under control.
I would suggest any of the elders - the black-leaved ones are very pretty (that's the Sambucus you have in the list) and anything else with berries - maybe even cotoneaster which can be evergreen too.
Pyracantha can be great, but it is very thorny and vicious - so if there are children playing near the hedge, leave it out.
A hedge isn't really trees, ideally - but shrubby things... although some trees can be contained and if not contained might make good shapes.

  • Posted: Wed. 11th January 2012 23:50