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Which screening plants are best for providing garden privacy?

If you’re looking to landscape your garden and are in search of an added degree of privacy, which plants would best meet this brief? Well, obviously it all depends upon the exact circumstances of the garden in question; its orientation, its soil type and exactly how much privacy is ultimately required. However, generally speaking certain types of plants will work better for hedging or screening plots.

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There are a number of evergreen and deciduous plants that will more than adequately deliver screening and privacy; whether that’s privets, cherry laurels, bamboos and bays, or beeches (Fagus sylvatica) and hornbeams (Carpinus betulus). One of Ladybrook Nursery’s own favourites is the holly, particularly Ilex (Nellie Stevens) – of which more later.

So which screening plant would work best in your garden? Well, that depends. When it comes to choosing a suitable plant for hedging or screening, there are a number of issues you should consider. First of all you’ll need to decide whether you want evergreen or deciduous hedging and, importantly you’ll have to give some consideration to maintenance. The best hedges only need a once-a-year trim and slower-growing hedges make better barriers.

Deciduous Hedges

Deciduous beech or hornbeam hedges form attractive green backdrops and look very similar. Hornbeam, however, comes into leaf earlier and provides a green backdrop from late April, unlike beech which often waits until mid-May. Hornbeam is a very effective screening plant which boasts bright-green, crimped leaves. However, the flip side to this is that hornbeam is happiest on heavier, damp soil. For lighter, well-drained soils, beech is probably a better bet. The problem is that beech is shallow-rooted and therefore more difficult to establish. It is also prone to aphid infestation when young. Our best advice is to always consult with your garden designer or have a word with knowledgeable staff at your local garden centre before making you choice

Evergreen Hedges

If you want an evergreen hedge, then the two best and most-consistent performing plants are definitely Yew and Holly. Yew is probably the best maintenance-friendly hedge, and is also a relatively quick- growing despite its unfounded reputation (the yew trees often spotted in church yards maybe old, but yew doesn’t really take this long to mature.) Yew will obviously never be as quick-growing as a Lleylandii hedge, but in 10 to 15 years’ time it is certainly capable of forming a 5 foot screen, particularly if you feed the new hedge with seaweed fertiliser every 2 weeks during the April to August growing season. What’s more, you can cut yew back to bare wood and it will still regenerate, unlike Lleylandii hedges.

Holly also makes an excellent evergreen hedge too but it grows much slower than yew so it’s a longer term project if you’re considering using this plant, unless you buy mature plants. Two of the more popular plants are the prickly native, Ilex aquifolium, or the rounder-leaved, kinder hybrid, Ilex x altaclerensis. Ladybrook Nursery’s own particular favourite is Ilex (Nellie Stevens) – see below.

Garden Screening Project – Cheshire

Ladybrook Nursery recently supplied a number of Ilex Nellie Stevens for a garden project in Cheshire. The client has asked for advice on which trees would give the best cover and screening from a public footpath which crossed an adjacent field. We suggested standard Ilex Nellie Stevens trees which not only provide dark glossy green foliage, but also scarlet red berries throughout the winter. After taking our advice and visiting our Nursery, the client chose a number of Ilex Nellie Stevens plants with a 16-18 centimetre girth.

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