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Putting really large trees in a medium sized garden

(30 Posts)
PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 18:55:28

Has anyone got any thoughts about this?

Our garden is about 60ft. It backs onto what is currently a playing field though of course may not be for ever.

We have little privacy and I'd like to improve it - I want a crowded, verdant garden, as much as I can in the space we have.

I've planted quite a few trees since we moved in (there was basically nothing established except a privet bush)

Mainly things like apple, crab apple, a birch, a hawthorn and a cercis canadensis which might reach about 9 metres maximum.

I've done something a bit silly and come home from the nursery in a daydream, with a tree which will possibly reach 15 metres, which is about 50ft. (eventually!)

I can't take it back, I already changed my mind once, but I am worried that putting it in our garden isn't going towork - or won't be fair on it?

I hate cutting down happy trees and would hate to have to move it in a few years.

I'm not sure if we need to worry about the roots or not. There is a smallish building about 30ft from the garden which has mains drainage and I don't know if it might affect that.

The tree will be planted 50-odd feet from our house so I think that's Ok.

Are there any potential pitfalls I'm missing?

PovertyPain Mon 08-Feb-16 19:02:30

It's perfectly fine if you ding want any light at the back if your house and you want your neighbours to hate you! shock

PovertyPain Mon 08-Feb-16 19:03:33

Don't not 'Ding' Sorry, I was in a state of shock there.

dodobookends Mon 08-Feb-16 19:04:33

What sort of tree is it?

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:17:10

Oh. erm - Ok.

It's a Davidia.

PurpleWithRed Mon 08-Feb-16 19:23:30

Oh well, if it's a davidia that's different - such a beautiful tree who cares if it brings down your house? You were quite right to buy it.

If I remember correctly they're not particularly fast growers or thirsty, I would imagine you'll be fine with it.

What2 Mon 08-Feb-16 19:39:47

It's a lovely tree and quite airy looking. I think it will be ok. It's not like you've planted leylandai (can't spell). Make sure you don't plant it next to your boundaries though as its unfair on your neighbors if you do.
I love trees and have quite a few big trees in my garden. I make sure I get in a tree surgeon every few years so that he can maintain the trees so that they grow nicely. If you leave it until the trees are huge it's difficult for a tree surgeon to work on them and for them to maintain a nice shape. Little and often works better.

A lot of birch's grow fast and shoot upwards. I get the tree surgeon to take out the main trunk so that the tree fills out IYSWIM

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:40:09

Thank you - not sure what to think really after those responses!

It will probably take 20 to 50 years to get that tall, and if it's thirsty maybe it will stop our lawn puddling in the winter!

It probably won't flower till I am dead or we move house though grin

Mouthfulofquiz Mon 08-Feb-16 19:44:35

We've got four big trees in a medium sized garden - two of them are about 5 metres from the house. If anything, I'm grateful For the privacy and also for the fact that they drink up so much water when the garden is full of water from torrential rain! (Thanks storm Imogen!)
They are lovely trees (a holm oak and a scotch pine) and I have them checked annually to see they are healthy. I have been assured by a surveyor that they won't cause issues with foundations.

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:45:31

Are they airy? That's good. There aren't many about round here, well, honestly I have never seen one so it's hard to tell what they look like IRL.

Not many images on google either. I got it because it was busting its pot and no one else had bought it and the label was all moulded over...I had to saw off the pot, and it was really rootbound, poor thing.

Good idea with the birches, I wondered how people got that effect!

Also a good point about boundaries - though we only have about 24ft across, so even if it went in the middle, it would overhang either side.

I don't think the people on the side it's on would care at all - they are extremely laid back, and their garden is, uhh, unkempt - plus they have some mad damson trees at the end which need sorting out, covered in ivy and brambles, and they can't be arsed, so I'm not too worried...I might offer to do that for them actually.

I'm thinking though say in 20 years when it's pretty big - will we be made to take it down? It's a conservation area so I'm hoping it will have some protection.

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:46:37

Mouthful, that's very reassuring, I nearly bought a holm oak but thought 25 metres might be too big!

Hoping these will resolve our minor flooding issue.

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:48:17

Oh and next door the other side has a huge leyland hedge, which I don't actually mind, and a bamboo which they have very kindly agreed to get rid of - maybe I ought just to ask everyone if it's Ok.

I guess we could cut it down if it got too massive.

Palomb Mon 08-Feb-16 19:49:28

Sounds lovely as long as it isn't going to completely shade out anyone's garden 😀

Chottie Mon 08-Feb-16 19:52:42

As someone who lives next door to someone with huge trees, I would say please, please think twice - the trees cut all the light out of our back garden and the needles rain down on our garden 24 / 7.........

PippaHotamus Mon 08-Feb-16 19:57:07

Okay, I will think it over. It won't cut out all the light for any of us - we're all West facing, so sunlight from morning till evening. We will be the ones who have the most shade from it.

I really hope it will be alright. I don't know what else to do with it tbh!

CuttedUpPear Tue 09-Feb-16 06:11:24

I think you're making a mistake by planting all these trees. The size of your garden will cause them to crowd each other out. There are lots of other ways to create a full an interesting garden - I'd question the wisdom of planting a hawthorn, which has thorns and isn't suitable for a garden which children are going to use, let alone being prevalent in the wild.

Your apple tree will need light and space to fruit efficiently.

Keep your Davidia but it should be given a chance without competing with all these other trees.

PippaHotamus Tue 09-Feb-16 07:57:53

Thanks, I see your point and am working at it at the moment - I've been moving the trees around to maximise the space they will have, and doing quite a lot of technical drawing to scale using their maximum height etc.

I don't think the hawthorn will be much of a problem - it's right at the back where it will hopefully provide an effective prickly barrier, it's already about 8 or 9 feet tall, so not a low growing shrubby thing, and it's actually in a corner between the trampoline (with enclosure) and the fence so they're not going to be running past it. Plus it's really pretty smile

I'm intending to keep some of the trees quite low, so a bit more like a hedge, if that makes sense - they are planted along the boundary in a line, and most are pretty small types anyway - the hawthorn is at the end, in the middle, then the davidia is the first in the line at the side, then there's a big gap and then an apple, a whitebeam (smaller sort) and a crab apple.

Along the other side there's a birch, another crab apple, a small pear and a Chinese hawthorn which again is about a 4 metre top height (about 13ft)

I can always take out one of the smaller trees if it gets overcrowded - I have various shrubs in between as well.

I think I'll see how it goes.

I really appreciate this input, not fobbing you off as I know exactly why you are concerned, but I am hoping I've got it right.

shovetheholly Tue 09-Feb-16 08:37:05

Ahhh, I can see why you fell in love. They are beautiful trees.

If it's not going to shade your neighbours, I'd say that it's up to you. I would, however, urge some caution. It's one thing having a garden full of saplings in their youth. It's quite another to have a garden dominated by a thick canopy of deciduous foliage. A tree that height will be completely out of scale with everything else in your garden (I am typing this looking at my lovely neighbour's three giant leylandii, which look ridiculous - the circumference of one is literally half the width of the garden!!). Landscaping to make it look good at full height may almost impossible.

More seriously, a dense canopy from lots of trees will really restrict what you can grow underneath - you will simply not be able to put in a lot of common English garden sun-loving plants, and you'll need to seek out special shade loving varieties instead. And even plants that have evolved or been bred to work in deep shade may struggle. Have you seen an English woodland floor under a dense canopy? It has its own beauty, but it is absolutely not the full, jungly look you are after.

My personal decision would be to take the tree back and get hold of some medium-sized shrubs which will give you the effect you want in a few years - things like fatsia variegata, viburnums will grow to a decent height quite quickly and will potentially give you evergreen screening too. Clump-forming bamboo (not the rhizome-forming varieties, which cause huge problems) can look lovely. For a shady, damp corner then there are big-leaved perennials like rodgersia, darmera that you can use. Planting at a smaller scale will actually make your garden look much 'fuller' and busier.

PippaHotamus Tue 09-Feb-16 09:17:57

Thank you so much. You are right, and I hadn't really considered the shade aspect thoroughly. And yes, it will be out of proportion I think!

Next door -as well as their leyland hedge - has a large tree, well, it's not large large but it must be 25 or 30 feet tall, and actually that looks great - I think it might be a hawthorn. We haven't been here long and I can't remember what it did last summer!

So perhaps it wouldn't be totally weird having a big tree. Also I would concur with the shrubs but actually there is a tower block in my line of sight and I'd really like to screen off that a bit, eventually. So I do want a proper tree, if that makes sense.

Part of the problem is that we used to have a 120ft garden which I could plant anything in. When we moved here it was very difficult to adjust. I think part of me still struggles with that tbh.

Also, I really cannot return the tree, and if I do decide it's unsuitable, I don't know what else to do with it, except sneak over to the local wilderness at night and bung it in there!

I have contacted the council tree officer chap, to see if he might give me some advice as he's always been helpful. I don't want to get it wrong.

DoreenLethal Tue 09-Feb-16 09:23:43

I only have a smallish garden, canalside; but I have recently changed it from paths, beds and borders to a woodland garden; with around 20 trees all of which I will be pruning regularly to keep in shape and tip top condition. I have a winding grass path through and an earth oven at the bottom near the canal. We have plants at all levels.

All my trees are statement or productive [fruit or fuel]. All the trimmings get used as fuel for my woodburner or chopped/shredded and left on the soil to break down and provide mycelium for the woodland.

I love it - absolutely love it. If you are unsure of pruning methods [I was taught by a head gardener how to prune properly and it's my favourite thing to do] then go on a pruning course to learn how to prune different trees properly.

Sanchar Tue 09-Feb-16 09:32:25

Tree surgeons can do root pruning to restrict a trees growth.

I get where you're coming from though, I'd love a giant redwood in my garden but it would look a bit out of place on the edge of a housing estate😁

PurpleCrazyHorse Tue 09-Feb-16 09:43:26

I'd chat to a tree surgeon to see what they can do regarding pruning and upkeep. Just because it can grow large does it mean it has to IYSWIM?

Ongoing maintenance is probably something to consider anyway.

We have a 9ft high hedge along our back boundary and we have a gardening firm in to keep it neat because I don't want it looking a mess or getting it out of hand for our back neighbours. I think you can plant what you like if you're planning to stay long term but do keep them in check.

shovetheholly Tue 09-Feb-16 09:56:01

grin I totally understand your dilemma. I am in love with Cornus controversa 'variegata', and I would dearly love it in my garden! But my 100ft suburban space is far too small for such a majestic thing! One day, when I win the lottery, I will buy a house with acres and acres and plant three of the things!! grin

I would normally suggest you harden your heart and bung it in for a few years, then remove it when it is getting on the large side? I know people who do this with the new very white-stemmed birches: they lose the whiteness after a while, so you eventually have to replace if you want that thin-trunked, very pure white look. However, I know that Davidia can take 10-20 years to flower, so you might well be taking it down just as it's hitting its stride, which is a shame.

shovetheholly Tue 09-Feb-16 10:08:57

Oh, and definitely check out root pruning, in particular the cost and whether you are willing to keep paying it (tree surgeons are amazing, but they can be very expensive).

CuttedUpPear Tue 09-Feb-16 23:27:37

You won't be able to keep a Davidia or a Cercus to 'hedge' proportions ' they will never flower or reach their correct adult shape, which is what standard trees are intended for.

You could put them on free cycle - they would be snapped up.

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