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Tricky Tree Problem

(14 Posts)
Bolshybookworm Mon 09-Feb-15 07:23:58

Can any of you gardening experts offer some tree/shrub advice? We have a long, narrow garden that wraps around the house. A shallow, seasonal stream runs along the back of it. Previously, the banks of the streams were planted with laburnum, dogwood and lilac but these were either completely overgrown or dying (hopefully not of honey fungus!) so we have taken them out. Which now means the neighbours can see straight into our kitchen!

We need to put in some trees and shrubs for screening that aren't too big (they'll only be a few metres from the house) and are happy in cold, acidic, wet clay. We're quite far north, so nothing tender.

Any ideas? At the moment, I'm think silver birch inter planted with dogwood but a bit worried about the dogwood going rampant again. I'd also like a black alder but think it will eventually grow too big. Are there any small willow varieties that would work?

taxi4ballet Mon 09-Feb-15 10:25:55

Hawthorn and blackthorn? Or maybe cotoneaster.

PestoSnowissimos Mon 09-Feb-15 10:37:27

I would be very wary of planting trees so close to your property, particularly if your soil is clay. Their roots seek water, the clay shrinks & lo & behold you have a subsidence problem!

Bolshybookworm Mon 09-Feb-15 11:45:30

You missed the bit where I said they'd be right next to a stream grin

But yes, I'm not going to plant poplar or anything crazy. Birch have fairly shallow roots and are generally safe to plant near a house.

Bolshybookworm Mon 09-Feb-15 11:46:47

Should add that the soil never completely dries out, even in summer- if anything we need the trees in to take up some of the water.

Ferguson Mon 09-Feb-15 19:26:28

Would willow be a possibility, as that likes dampness.

We have black bamboo, which makes a nice screen but not too dense. It is not as invasive as some bamboos, and can be controlled. I don't know how it copes with dampness though.

And of course gunnera is fun; it can be VERY big, but I don't know if there are smaller varieties.

Bolshybookworm Mon 09-Feb-15 19:40:26

If I didn't have small children, I'd turn the whole thing into a massive swamp garden, with loads of gunnera grin it's very spiky though. I've got a damp corner I might put a giant rhubarb in instead.

PurpleWithRed Mon 09-Feb-15 20:28:18

Ooh have a gunnera, if the kids manage to spike themselves it will only be the once. I believe some oaks and maples are less fussy about wet feet than others, but it does depend just how boggy it is. Birch might well be OK, but so spindly, not great screeners.

Bolshybookworm Mon 09-Feb-15 23:10:54

It's a catch22 really, because we need some screening but not so thick that we block off all light to our garden. Maples do well round here, but they're very slow growing. Might plant a couple of cheap morrisons ones in between the trees, as I love them. Not going to spend £££ on them though, just in case there is honey fungus lingering sad. If I had loads of money and a big garden, I would have a glade of different maples- so, so lovely.

shovetheholly Tue 10-Feb-15 13:14:47

Some ideas:

* I think you could go for trees, but if you want something that looks very designed you will need to be prepared to replace them or prune them hard to keep them in check. (A lot of the displays in top gardens are designed to be there for a few years only and then to be replaced). Amelanchier lamarckii and Sambucus nigra would look amazing. However, the distance from the house does really worry me - as a PP said, it's the shrinking of the roots in the dry season that's the worry.

* You could think about a clump-forming bamboo - be careful not to get something too invasive. Fargesia if it's shade, one of the coloured cane varieties if it's sunnier. If you cut out canes as it gets thicker, it should give you a more dappled effect.

* What about viburnums? They like the cold and the wet and many have year-round interest.

Gunnera and bog plants would be lovely, but you might not get year-round screening with many.

taxi4ballet Tue 10-Feb-15 15:35:39

How about hazel?

aircooled Tue 10-Feb-15 18:10:48

Quince trees like damp ground. Hornbeam does too and would make a screening hedge if you trimmed them, or grow them free-form.

Bolshybookworm Tue 10-Feb-15 23:43:25

I like the idea of hazel, especially the corkscrew ones as they don't get too big. Bit slow growing but very attractive. I had no idea quince liked damp ground, will look it up! How big does hornbeam grow if it's not pruned?

Just to reiterate, there is no danger of our soil drying out- we've been here for two hot, dry summers and all the beds have stayed moist throughout. We pretty much live in a bog grin There's also a mature goat willow growing just over the fence (about 5-6 metres away) and still no sign of subsidence (thankfully, as we can't do much about it).

I like bamboo, but don't think it will fit with the rest of my planting scheme (think messy naturalistic). I'm happy to sacrifice total screening for more light in the garden, quite tempted by Amelanchier.

Lots of things to think about!

ladybird69 Fri 13-Feb-15 23:41:49

How about evergreens and small pines trees they look lovely with the bark on the silver birch. Not the huge leylandi. I think the pines take a lot of water.
I've recently moved into a house with quite a few trees does anyone know how much it costs to pollard them? (The previous owners had promised to do it, but they lied )

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