One of the most common requests we get from our customers is for trees that can be used for screening, as a natural privacy barrier. Evergreen hedging can provide an excellent screen, with many additional benefits like wind and noise reduction, and providing nesting sites for wildlife. In an age where we can have instant access to almost anything, fast growing species are highly sought after. Two of the most popular privacy trees traditionally recommended are Leylandii and Laurel.
While Leylandii is often thought of as the best option for the cheapest, bushiest and fastest growing hedge, it is much higher maintenance and more difficult to keep under control. This might be ideal for avid gardeners who are keen to continue with maintenance, as pruning is recommended two to three times a year to keep the hedge looking neat. However, if a Leylandii hedge is left untrimmed, it will grow up to three feet per year and will need professional help to keep it in shape and if left and attempted to cut back then looks extremely woody and unsightly. Leylandii are not usually recommended for small, urban gardens, but more for large sites with more space.
Laurel provides a dense, glossy, dark green evergreen hedge, which can provide instant screening all year round. Growing up to two feet per year, it is deal for planting in an area where permanent privacy or screening is required.
A lesser know species, that is equally good for screening and year round privacy is the Thuja. Similar looking to Leylandii but a little neater and and almost as fast growing, Thuja have thick, olive green foliage that creates a dense privacy screen. The foliage has a pleasant, fruity fragrance when the leaves are brushed against. Unlike Leylandii, Thuja can be cut back into old wood and will still re-shoot. They are also easier to control.
A Thuja hedge is easy to grow and is tolerant of most conditions. Thuja can withstand strong winds and low temperatures and only need to be trimmed once a year car. They will grow equally well in full sunshine as in shadier spots. Thuja are a much lower maintenance plant that Leylandii and an excellent choice for a fast growing formal hedge or tall screen.
Although Thuja plants will tolerate most soil types, it is advisable to mix the soil with compost when planting, to ensure that they have the best environment to grow in for their first year. After planting, a Thuja hedge should be watered regularly during its first year to give it the best chance of survival. This is particularly important if the hedge is being planted in the drier summer months.
At this time of year though, rootballed hedging is available and a much better option, it’s easier to plant and the plants are more substantial and cheaper so a win/win all round. There are several varieties of Thuja available from Emerald to occidentalis and seek advice for the best one for your garden.