Gardening: Create a privacy screen without the hassle of building

With Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Gardening: Create a privacy screen without the hassle of building

Screening trees are invaluable as they can create a high screen in your garden that is taller than a hedge and wall, and creates privacy. They are ideal for screening a new house or extension, too. A wall or fence cannot be any higher than two metres tall, or you have to apply for planning permission, but there is no maximum height for a tree.

If you pick the right tree you aren’t going to have a problem with light and sun for your home or garden, or your neighbours' either.

Pleached and espaliered trees are grown for exactly this purpose and do the job exceptionally well.

We grow pleached or espaliered trees in multiple sizes and varieties. We give them both names as they are very similar in their preparation.

Pleached or espaliered trees can often be used to create instant screening around a garden, increasing 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.

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

Some of our favourite species for pleaching are Ilex, Nellie Stevens, Magnolia Grandiflora, Carpinus betulus and Photinia Red Robin. The head size is usually 1.2 - 1.8 m wide and 1.2m (4ft) tall and so can be planted in a row at two metre spacings.

There are a few 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 trees 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, and because they are deciduous they come in slightly cheaper than their evergreen counterparts.

Some of the deciduous options are great as they change with the seasons. I love the mulberry and London Plane Trees espaliered as they have such lovely large feature foliage and have wonderful lime green spring colouring and rich autumn foliage too. It is worth not having winter cover to have these in your garden.

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. Evergreen Magnolia is great if you live in Dublin or the south of the country as it has a wonderful bonus flower.

The options are endless and we have a good selection on the site here at Caragh Nurseries, but have other options too. Just ask if you don't see what you are looking for.

Aiming lower

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 be 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 options like the evergreen jasmine with its scented white flowers, and the wisteria with its stunning lilac blue flowers as well as all the other options.

If you have any questions about how to screen your garden then I am always happy to answer your questions on the usual email. Until then, happy gardening.

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