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Fast-growing screening trees/shrubs for small garden

(22 Posts)
Appervine Fri 21-Aug-15 18:57:48

Our small (40ft ish) city garden is very overlooked due to the removal of some trees from the garden behind. What fast growing trees or shrubs can I put in to give us at least the illusion of privacy and to screen a really ugly and neglected house at the back? I was thinking of a black lace leaf elder (sambucus nigra) which seems to be reasonably fast growing. Any other suggestions please?

Appervine Sat 22-Aug-15 07:46:59


EekBarbaraitsaDalek Sat 22-Aug-15 07:52:54

We have a sambucus nigra and it grows really fast (didn't realise when I bought it!) It's a beautiful plant and really easy to propagate. No other suggestions I'm afraid as I try to avoid fast growing plants!

funnyperson Sat 22-Aug-15 14:48:22

Well Sambuccus is a great large shrub but only if planted with something that has light, preferably lime green or yellowy foliage to set it off.
You could also trail clematis through it for colour.

Appervine Sat 22-Aug-15 16:54:31

Yes clematis could be nice. I'll search out other possibilities too. A yellowy bamboo possibly, although I'd need to make sure it didn't spread too much.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Sat 22-Aug-15 17:32:46

Maybe you could plant bamboo in concrete pots - not done it myself, but I've seen it take over a garden next to my PIL's, who'd contained it in said concrete and it was fine - makes a lovely noise in the wind. I love the black bamboo, which I think is a bit smaller and less invasive - but again, never tried it!

LightNC Sat 22-Aug-15 17:39:44

Look out for clumping bamboo, this doesn't go on the run like running bamboo.

Black bamboo is a good choice.

Appervine Sat 22-Aug-15 21:52:27

Yes, I'd definitely need to use a rhizome barrier and go for a clumping type. I've seen someone I know have to redo their patio after a vigorous bamboo went rampaging through it. Terrifying!

echt Sun 23-Aug-15 10:10:45

How long to you intend to stay in your house?

Bamboo grows fast, and I use it myself, but it offers bugger all to native birds.

LightNC Sun 23-Aug-15 11:21:08

Good point echt.

I am sad to see trees taken down, for this very reason.

Appervine Sun 23-Aug-15 11:36:49

Yes, you're right. I was hoping that something like the elder would compensate for that (berries etc). We've got a small apple tree as well which I think the birds will appreciate when it's a bit bigger.

What do you think I could use instead of bamboo Echt? I suppose an established tree of some kind could work, but it would need to be a decent size to actually act as any kind of screen.

HaveYouSeenHerLately Sun 23-Aug-15 11:59:48

I have pyracantha although it's taken a while to get going. I also like photinia (red robin) for its foliage smile Oh and I inherited a tall laurel which I've thinned out to give some cover and interest (particularly in winter) at the end if the garden.

Maybe you could have some bamboo in pots to move around while the rest catches up?
I installed trellis on top of existing low fences to give me a bit of extra privacy. I've wired some reed/ bamboo screening (Home Bargains 1.5m roll) to the fence/trellis while the plants catch up. I'm quite pleased with the effect smile

echt Sun 23-Aug-15 13:09:18

I'm not able to suggest an alternative fast-growing plant, as I live in Au and all the ones I know won't grow in the UK.

*HaveYou's suggestions of temporary screening while you grow a more sustainable screen sound good.

elephantoverthehill Sun 23-Aug-15 13:14:08

In my first house we used a russian vine or mile a minute plant. It really does grow quickly and was quite easy to maintain and remove once other screening plants got established. A pub around the corner used it with a rambling rose with good effect.

shovetheholly Mon 24-Aug-15 08:02:15

How tall does it need to be to act as a screen?

I would be a bit wary of things that are very, very fast growing - they shoot up to a lovely height in 5 years or so, but then they keep on going! So you get things like leylandii which are just massively out of scale with everything and cost a fortune to get rid of. People always intend to take them out when they are over a certain size, and then forget, and then within a couple of years it's a job for a tree surgeon and you won't get much change from £700.

What about something tall and slender that will grow to a decent height, without being a beast? Because screening is often not so much about 'hiding' something as about drawing the eye away from it. I'm thinking of something like the new generation of silver birches that have perfectly white, straight stems that just glimmer out - take a look at B. utilis var. jacquemontii 'Grayswood Ghost'.

If you have a larger space, this can look simply stunning planted along a path as an elegant single stem - but here's a picture of its use in a smaller town garden as a multistem screen.

I know someone who says that to keep these at their best, they do need replacing after 10-15 years.

CuttedUpPear Mon 24-Aug-15 08:14:24

Don't plant Russian Vine! It's not even attractive, and grows so fast that you'd be cutting it back every week. Also it needs a really sturdy support as it puts on weight like crazy.

As for bamboo not offering anything for birds, I've got one next to my bird feeders and I get flocks of bluetits and even sparrows practising their sideways perching in it while taking turns to feed.
I would like to get rid of it but won't for this reason.

echt Mon 24-Aug-15 09:00:06

Ooh, so good to hear this, CuttedUpPear. We can't see our bamboo from the house; it's down the side, so don't see if the native Aussie birds are using it. We fervently hope so.

Appervine Wed 26-Aug-15 08:54:16

I love that tree shovetheholly. I was looking at lovely silver birches but hadn't considered a multi-stemmed one. It's beautiful.

I would want to buy one decent sized one as there's something behind our house that I actually want to hide and it needs to be at least 8ft. The rest is about getting some decent height to give more of a feeling of privacy, if that makes sense.

I also like the temporary screening idea using something in a pot and I'm definitely getting some trellis.

Thanks everyone. This has been really helpful.

mumsnit Sun 30-Aug-15 17:34:24

I have a small garden with two large overlooking windows after neighbour's cut down their hedge a few years ago. I now have quite a good screen with a range of plants both evergreen and deciduous for interest.

You could try:

Flagpole cherry tree - grows tall and narrow
Cherry laurel
Clematis armandii grown over trellis (evergreen and fast growing)
Deutzia or Buddleia - fast growing deciduous shrubs

Bamboo in pots as suggested above - I have two in large plastic pots which can be moved around the garden for instant privacy (needs lots of watering tho if growing in pots)

A garden arch, a tall obalisk or a pergola with climbers/roses might help create an instant screen?

A stilted hedge or pleached screen is a good although costly option - try googling for ideas/prices!

florentina1 Sun 30-Aug-15 19:28:20

Philadelphus grows quickly and has white flowers. Try and buy the double flowered scented ones. Also clematis Montana Rubens and summer Jasmine. Honeysuckle, especially the evergreen ones..Cornus can grow very tall and provides a good structure for clematis to grow through. Fast growing climbing roses, such as Graham Thomas or Tranquility. Smoke plants and cherry trees have lovely purple leaves. I have the last two behind pink Japanese anemome. It provides a stunning contrast and a long season.

Jux Sun 30-Aug-15 19:33:29

Bamboo. Lovely stuff.

AncestralRhubarb Tue 01-Sep-15 09:30:32

Acacia pravissima. Fast growing, evergreen but frondy so creates dappled shade rather than deep shade, dripping with delicate yellow flowers in spring. The perfect screening tree.

Buy a single stem one rather than multi stem if you want a tree rather than a shrub.

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