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What Should I Plant For Screening Neighbours

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  • Screening Neighbours, How to choose trees for privacy, What Should I Plant For Screening Neighbours, Hedges, Bamboo screening
  • Posted date:
  • 26-07-2022
What Should I Plant For Screening Neighbours

Plants aren't just handy for decorating your garden, patio or outdoor space; they can also serve practical purposes. By strategically placing your greenery throughout your own garden, you can interrupt the existing views to highlight a certain eye-catching feature or block out views you don't want to see. 

You might also want to secure garden privacy for large or small gardens from prying neighbours' eyes, which can be ensured by choosing trees and plants suited to the job and establishing them where they will be most effective.

But there are many things to consider before you rush out and buy any old shrubs to guard your property. If you want your screening plants, screening trees or privacy hedges to work best and still act as an attractive element of your garden, you'll have to put some thought into it. 

Here we've detailed a few of the most important considerations to make when purchasing plants to screen your garden from neighbouring properties.

Before you plant anything, you need to consider some practical aspects of your garden. First of these is the type of soil you have in your garden, as this will be the biggest factor in what plants you can select. Of course, you can always improve your soil's condition, but if you have clay soil, particularly chalky or sandy clay, some shrubs and plants will be more suitable than others.

The next thing to consider is the ultimate height of the plants you want to establish. To screen your garden effectively, you will need to know how high your trees or shrubs will need to grow so that they do not outgrow the available space in your garden or take too long to reach the desired height. However, try to avoid purchasing very large plants, as they will be very difficult to manage and prune.

For starters, while your shrubs or trees are getting established, aim for shrubs no taller than 1 metre (3 feet) and trees no taller than 1.8 metres (6 feet). 

Additionally, if the area where you plan to place your trees or shrubs is relatively exposed, you might want to consider installing a windbreak or shelterbelt to your screening plants. This is especially important while the plants are still young and require extra protection to grow healthily.

Before establishing your chosen screening plants, ensure the ground is prepared properly. Digging enough organic matter into the soil before planting is the best way to give your plants the best start in life. You can also assess your limitation regarding hard pruning and maintenance.

Screening plants are often fast-growing, given that people want privacy quickly. Therefore, they require frequent, comprehensive maintenance. If you aren't up to the challenge, you might want to consider hiring a professional gardener.

The final practicality to bear in mind is the proximity of drains, structures, buildings, brick walls and soakaways to where you plan on establishing your screening plants. 

Both shrubs and tree roots can develop extensive networks beneath the ground, putting nearby buildings and pipework in peril. Root damage can be a true nuisance, given how difficult underground pipes can be to repair. Therefore, ensuring your screening plants are far enough away will mitigate any damage to your or your neighbour's garden or property.

Alongside practical considerations, you'll also want to think about the overall design of your garden when choosing the appropriate screening plants. The aesthetic effect they will have on your garden is very important. After all, you're going to be looking at them 365 days a year; you might as well ensure that you'll enjoy doing so.

The size of the leaves on your chosen plants is one element of design to bear in mind. Trees or shrubs with large leaves, like Magnolia grandiflora or laurel, will look proportional when growing tall. On the other hand, Pittosporum and other small-leaved plants won't look right if left to grow as tall. Therefore, after deciding how tall you want your screening plants to be, ensure that you select plants with appropriately sized leaves.

In terms of design, you might also want to consider a creeping plant, such as willow or ivy. These varieties grow outwards and can be encouraged to form complex, woven screens that can protect your garden from prying eyes. These are very flexible plants, and with a guiding hand, you can create some beautiful designs. Depending on your gardening skill, you might attempt to create these woven screens yourself. If not, you can hire a professional to create them to your tastes.

Given that screens are often large elements of your garden, designed to block the views of your neighbours, there may be some planning regulations to consider before planting. 

For example, if your plans for your screen include two or more evergreens in the same line, this may be considered a "high hedge", which you will need appropriate planning permission from your local council authority.

If your garden borders a public right-of-way path or highway, you will also need to get the consent of the Highways and Byways department at your local council before planting trees or screening hedge plants. 

You will also need to check whether there are any restrictive covenants on the land your property resides on. Sometimes these covenants can restrict the types of trees or new hedges you can plant on the land or prohibit the establishment of other features that would create privacy in your garden.

You will also need to determine whether your property exists within a Conservation Area. If it does, then you will need to apply for permission to carry out any work, whether planting or maintenance. This also applies to establishing or maintaining screening plants. 

However, if your plants are considered a hedge, you do not need planning permission to make alterations or maintenance.

Again, wherever you plan to establish your screening plants be careful that they are not too close to any nearby buildings. This is especially important if the building is protected in any way, such as being listed. Screening plants can grow extensively if not pruned properly, meaning they pose a significant structural threat to any buildings nearby.


 What Should I Plant To Block Neighbours? UK

You can also get creative with your hedge designs to really make the most of the available space in your garden. Using shrubs rather than trees to create a visual screen is one way of doing this. Letting your shrubs grow taller, perhaps around 1.8 metres (6 feet), before trimming the lower branches will give you more space around the ground and allow more sunlight to reach plants and flowers lower down. If you have fences or a trellis around your garden, you can use this method to allow your shrub to branch out over the fence line, further screening your garden from prying eyes.


There are several evergreen species you can consider for your screening plants, including:

  • Arbutus unedo - this evergreen reaches heights of up to 8 metres (24 feet) for a large screening plant. It produces white flowers during late autumn and early winter (October - November).
  • Eucalyptus gunnii - reaching between 10 - 25 metres (30 - 80 feet), this plant produces long greyish-green leaves as it ages, with the leaves being slightly lighter while it is young.
  • Ligustrum japonicum - this shrub can reach between 2.5 - 3 metres (8 - 10 feet) in height and has dense growth with dark-green foliage and glossy leaves. It also produces white flowers from mid-summer into autumn.
  • L. lucidum - another large plant, reaching up to 10 metres (30 feet), has bright green leaves throughout the year and produces white flowers in the late summer and autumn.
  • Magnolia grandiflora - an extremely tall screening plant, reaching between 15 - 18 metres (50 - 60 feet) with glossy leaves and sweet-scented flowers that bloom from summer into autumn.
  • Olea europaea - climbing to 10 metres (30 feet), this is a slow-growing evergreen, perfect for those who want an easy-to-maintain screening plant.
  • Photinia x fraseri', "Red Robin" - this dense hedge makes for the perfect hedge, with purple leaves when it is young and white flowers in late spring. It reaches heights of 5 metres (16 feet).
  • Prunus laurocerasus, "Rotundifolia" - this is a fast-growing plant that makes a brilliant screen, turning more tree-like as it ages. With sweet-scented flowers through mid-to-late spring, it will reach heights of 4 - 5 metres (13 - 14 feet).
  • Quercus ilex - this tree can reach up to 20 - 25 metres (70 - 80 feet) and has a rounded trunk with smooth bark.
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides - another fast-grower, this plant combines the best of climbing plants with glossy, dark-green foliage that turns a copper colour during the winter. White, scented flowers bloom in late summer, and they can reach between 4 - 8 metres (12 - 15 feet) in height.
  • Grasses and bamboo

    Grasses and bamboo can also form attractive partial screening that can add dynamic movement and relaxing sound to your garden in a breeze. However, you must choose your varieties carefully to create the right screening effect in terms of height. For example, Miscanthus Sinensis cultivars such as M. Sinensis, "Morning Light", can reach 2 metres (6 feet), and M. Sinensis, "Silberspinne", can reach up to 1.5 metres (5 feet). Both would be perfect for informal screens, but depending on your desired height, you must determine which is best for your garden.

    Bamboo screening

    Bamboo screening

    When choosing the right bamboo varieties, ensure that the ones you select will form clumps, such as Golden Bamboo, and are not invasive species that intrude into the surrounding area too aggressively. One variety that does this best is Chusquea Montana, which typically grows straight up in a tidy clump. It can reach 1 - 3 metres (3 - 10 feet) and spread outwards over 10 years by 1.5 metres (5 feet).

    Other varieties include Fargesia murieliae, which forms tidy clumps with small leaves along the culms. This variety can reach up to 4 metres (13 feet) and spreads outwardly up to 2.5 metres (8 feet). F. nitida is another fantastic variety, similar to the previous one, but will not grow as tall, limited to roughly 2 - 4 metres (6 - 13 feet).

    Small trees

    If you have a smaller garden, small trees are the best solution if you want to create an effective screen. Potential small tree varieties include:

  • Malus' Evereste' - reaching 7 metres (23 feet) and spreading over 6 metres (20 feet), this tree from a species of fruit trees produces white flowers in mid-spring.
  • Crataegus persimilis' Prunifolia - reaching 8 metres (26 feet) tall, this tree has beautiful foliage and produces red fruits.
  • Prunus' Umineko - this tree grows straight up to 8 metres (26 feet) and produces a narrow spread with white flowers in early spring.
  • M. x robusta, "Red Sentinel" - growing up to 7 metres (23 feet), this tree produces red fruit for most of the year.
  • Sorbus aucuparia, "Sheerwater Seedling" - this is a fast-growing, straight tree with dense branches reaching 10 metres (33 feet) tall. It produces orange berries and has a beautiful autumnal colour.
  • Pyrus salicifolia' Pendula' - similar to weeping trees, this one has silvery leaves and can reach up to 5 metres (16 feet) in height.
  • S. vilmorinii - reaching 5 metres (16 feet) tall, this tree has beautiful foliage in autumn colours and produces red and white fruits.
  • Best garden trees for privacy

    If you are looking for something a little taller or have enough room for bigger trees in your large garden, more options are available than those listed above. 

    However, specific trees work well in specific gardens, so you have to be just as diligent when choosing the right tree for big gardens. If privacy is your main aim when selecting a tree, making the right choice is even more essential.

    You might have a neighbour's window looking directly over into your garden but only require screening for it during the summer. In this case, it would be better to choose deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the winter. You also get the added benefit of the beautiful colour changes as the leaves transition through the autumn.

    Alternatively, if you have a particularly ugly view at the end of a small town garden, for example, you may have a lampost that shines through into your garden or home. In this case, evergreen trees are the answer to keeping your garden dark through shade planting to protect your seating areas. 

    Given that they hold on to their leaves throughout the year, evergreens will give you all the screening you need.

    You no longer have to trouble yourself with depressing conifers to protect your privacy. Here are a few other alternatives you might want to consider:

    -Ornamental pear

    A deciduous tree, known officially as Pyrus calleyrana or Chanticleer.

    -Magnolia grandiflora

    An evergreen tree that will protect your privacy all year round.

    -Holm oak

    Another evergreen, known officially as Quercus ilex.

    -English holly

    A popular evergreen here in the U.K., its official name: Ilex aquifolium.

    -Amelanchier lamarkii

    More commonly known as Juneberry, this is a deciduous species.


    Carpinus betulus is somewhere between evergreen and deciduous, with the leaves dying in winter but remaining on their branches.

    -Ornamental cherry

    Also known as "Snow Goose", this is a deciduous species.

    -Crab apple tree

    The Malus hupehensis variety is especially good as a screening tree.

    -A large shrub

    Large shrubs like Prunus laurocerasus, "Cherry Laurel", can perform just as well as large trees.

    -A multi-stemmed tree

    Silver birch or Amelanchier are deciduous, multi-stemmed trees that also make for perfect screens.

    How to choose trees for privacy

    If you're unsure which tree would be best to secure your privacy, it is often best to talk with a professional tree supplier. 

    The two most important things to ask about are how fast and how high the tree will grow. Young trees are cheaper, easier to plant and establish better in your garden. 

    However, they can sometimes take a while to reach the desired height. On the other hand, mature trees are more expensive and troublesome to establish in a new location.

    Are you looking for Hedging Planting landscapers in Maidstone and Kent? We recommend visiting the following pages on our landscaping services website: