03 Dec 2021

Gardening: Using trees to create privacy outdoors

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening: Using trees to create privacy outdoors

Creating privacy with trees

Some of our biggest sellers here at Caragh Nurseries are our pleached and espaliered trees, bought by customers for privacy and screening.

We grow both in multiple sizes and varieties, and we give them both names as they are very similar in their preparation. Depending on which website or garden centre you speak to you, could be given either name to mean one or the other.

Pleached or espaliered trees can often be used to create instant screening around a garden, increase the height of a fence or wall to give privacy from neighbours or a road or to block a view. Pleached trees are the natural way to bring an architectural look to a garden, without having to build genuine architectural features.

It is the most common question we get asked in the nursery - how do you achieve screening when trees have been taken down, and you suddenly find yourself and your property much more on view and a little more exposed than you were prepared for?

That is also a consideration where a new building has been erected, usually far too close to your property or with a window or windows that look directly in at your property. Creating a screen in this case gives you back the privacy that you once had.

Pleached or espaliered trees have clear stems, usually up to 1.8m tall (6ft) and this allows enough space beneath their canopies for generous planting and /or seating.

Some of our favourite species for pleaching are Quercus ilex, Carpinus betulus and Photinia Red Robin. The head size is usually 1.8m (6ft) wide and 1.2m (4ft) tall and so can be planted in a row at two metre spacings. There are higher options for the heads to give higher privacy or screening, but these do tend to have a narrower spread and so you need more to cover the distance.

In terms of architectural planting, these really do create a very impactful design. Although the evergreen options are still our most popular, some of the deciduous options, with their change in colour with the seasons, are stunning if you can afford to lose some of the cover in the wintertime.

The hornbeam and beech are great options here as they do hold on to some of their autumnal copper leaves throughout the winter, giving you some foliage cover. Because they are deciduous, they come in at a slightly cheaper price than their evergreen counterparts.

These trees come in a range of varieties and colours, like the Eleagnus Ebbengei with its silver evergreen foliage or the Ligustrum Japonicum Aureum with its golden yellow colouring. I love the holly options for their evergreen cover and beautiful red berries. The choices are endless.

Low screens may be an option that might suit your garden better. These are very similar but have no clear stem but a screen of foliage from ground level. They can grow to anything from 150 -120cm (5-6ft) up to 350cm (11.5ft) tall.

There are a few extra options available grown on this way, including some flowering plants like the evergreen jasmine with its scented white flowers and the wisteria with its stunning lilac blue flowers.

I have recently made a video to help with your choices and this is showing on our website currently. It explains in detail how these trees look and the range they will cover, so take a look if you would like more information.

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