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Structural plants in narrow bed to increase height of fence?

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Question from Sophie Dixon

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Hi, we have a narrow bed in front of a 2 m high boundary fence, next to an area of tarmac, where we park cars. We want to increase the height of this boundary. The bed is 60 cm deep front to back, and 61/2 m long. We dug the border out, and filled it with topsoil, to a depth of 45 cm.

This area used to support a huge conifer hedge -- something like 5 m high. So, this would suggest that there is some soil under the tarmac. On the other hand,, the neighbours (who own the fence) removed some soil on their side -- to level the area -- which they have now gravelled over..

It is in full sun, and, although we live in a town, it is possibly in a slight wind tunnel.
Ideally, we would like three standard shrubs/small trees, something like photinia, with a clear stem or 2 m, and then roughly a 2 m sphere of foliage on top -- though we won't clip this into a ball, it will have a 'shaggy' look!
Our neighbour parks cars on the other side of the fence, so we can't have anything that extends over his side too much. Any fruiting trees, or anything that attracts wildlife is out -- he would probably hack back any plants that were causing a mess.
Would we be better doing a kind of espalier on stilts? This would keep the plants very flat, although I would prefer something a little less formal ...

Any suggestions? Evergreen is preferable, but given the site limitations, I'm open to anything. Can we grow some Apple cordons along the fence between the tree/shrubs. Is this being too greedy? And a rose to climb up the side of our house? I really don't know how much plant growth this area could support. What would you do with the soil beneath? Groundcover? Would that take too much nutrient out of the soil?
many thanks!

Structural plants in narrow bed to increase height of fence?

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  • Replies: 1
  • Posted: Wed. 3rd June 2009 14:24

Serious screening

Reply from Matt Nichol

Sophie,

You have answered many of your own questions in a round about way. You have clearly done your research and have an idea of what you want.

An area like this, especially 'front of house' needs a more restrictive palette of plants, be bold in your selection, the use of repeat is great here and will give a consistent design. I am assuming it is a relatively modern house?

Photinia is not my favorite of plants, as lend to have a lax habit if left unclipped. Windy evergreen tolerant standard plants are few and far between. Quercus ilex is often used for this in formal schemes, but due to slow growth rate is an expensive plant to buy and can be a bit boring and will get v. big if left unchecked, so not good so close to house. I would prefer to see Pyrus 'Chanticleer' or a Carpinus 'Fastigata' or even a clipped pleached Carpinus 'stilted' hedge. Why do you need the screening above the 2m fence? If you put in the trees provided they are not too close to the house, you could underplant with a mass of Calamagristis 'Overdam' (tall upright grass') and interplant with tulips for early colour and the odd Verbena bonariensis at the back for long flowering during the summer. Some colourful climbers on the fence, perhaps three Clematis 'Markhams Pink' would work well with pink tinge in grass stems and using the repeat again looks deliberate.

The apples confuse the issue I think, but it depends if you are going for a plant collection or a particular style of planting, whatever that may be. My suggestion may be too contemporary?

Happy to get your feedback. With regard to survival, lots of organic matter in soil and feed regularly, will help all the plants no end. A mulch help moisture retention which may be an issue.

Matt Nichol MSGD
http://www.broadviewgardendesign.co.uk
http://www.sgd.org.uk

  • Posted: Thu. 4th June 2009 18:25