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I mentioned a problem that has just arisen, because the neighbour over the other side of the lane from us has cut down a 30ft high Leylandii hedge, removing a great deal of privacy from the front of our house.  At first, I was concerned with the problem of our windows at the front being directly opposite their bedroom windows, but now that the whole hedge is down, it's clear that our garden as well as the front of the house is now overlooked, and we will need to put some form of privacy screen or fence in place.  We were planning to fit a low fence along the edge of the lawn, on top of the wall shown in this photo:

 

5939992cd6e1f_Westelevation.thumb.JPG.5c166171e87b00abd19d140fc9ee6b3b.JPG

 

However, the very tall hedge (at the extreme right in the above photo) has now been cut down so that it is at the level of the roof of my car, and the whole first floor of the house that is behind that hedge now looks directly at our house and garden.

 

As I mentioned in the other thread, we have two fences already, the 800mm high post and rail fence that runs alongside the path at the right side of the drive in the above photo, plus another 1.2m high post and rail fence at the boundary, which is about 1.5m below the drive and between 1.5m and 2.5m away from the fence that is visible above.  My question is really about planning law, and what constitutes a fence.  We are in an AONB, so even a 2m fence, that would normally be OK as PD, would require planning permission.  To provide any privacy at all, given the relative levels, would need a fence that's around 2.5m high, if it were placed along the line of the visible fence in the photo.  Eventually, the hedging plants that we've planted behind the lower fence (a mic of hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, hazel and wild rose) will grow to a height to provide some screening, but that will take several years.

 

I've been working through several ideas, and have read on a few sites that something like a trellis is deemed to be "decorative", rather than a fence, as such.  One option that may work for us is to bolt some tall posts to the existing fence posts and then fit a tall trellis of screen above the post and rail fence.  If the screen were fixed to the outer face of the posts, that nearest the lane, I could put some decent soil/compost behind the retaining timber at the base of the fence, and plant some climbers up the trellis/screen, probably to a height of around 2.5m above the drive level.  I think this could look more attractive than a plain fence, but my real concern is whether such a plant support would need planning permission. 

 

Our neighbour to the East (behind the house in the above photo) has a vegetable garden adjacent to the lane, and that has a fruit cage, plus bean sticks etc, that are taller than the 2m allowed for a fence, so I'm guessing that a plant support screen might be considered in the same way under planning rules.  Unfortunately, I can't ask the planners without paying them £90, as they no longer speak to the public, so I'm hoping that the collective knowledge here may know the answer!

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Our house, 2 houses back was a bit similar, with the whole garden on a bank a few feet higher than the road (actually a very good example of a sunken road)

 

What we found was a 5ft high garden fence was perfect. It completely screened the garden, and us to anyone walking or driving along the road looking up, but was low enough if we walked up to it, we could see over and look down at the road and whoever was there.

 

It won't solve the overlooking window issue but would give the privacy you want from the road.

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References for how height is measured:-

 

In England

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/606669/170405_Householder_Technical_Guidance__-April_2017_FINAL.pdf

 

“Height” - references to height (for example, the heights of the eaves on a house extension) is the height measured from ground level. (Note, ground level is the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building in question, and would not include any addition laid on top of the ground such as decking. Where ground level is not uniform (for example if the ground is sloping), then the ground level is the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building.)

 

In Scotland:

 

http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00502132.pdf

 

When measuring the height of the development on sloping or uneven ground, the height should be measured from the highest point immediately adjacent to the gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure.

 

 

In Scotland we also have The High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013.  I believe there is some like provision in England, so worth bearing in mind.

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How about artificial, expandable hedging. Link picked at random but plenty out there including artificial box hedging.

 

http://www.wilko.com/screening-trellis/wilko-expanding-artificial-leaf-trellis/invt/0406461?gclid=CKib_tL9rtQCFVVAGwodKMcJNw&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

Or tba a good old decent camo net supported by wires from the boundary on the left to a single post on the right.

Edited by Onoff

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Sorry, missed these replies for some reason (too much forum activity, perhaps!).

 

@ThePoplars, I love the idea of the "fedge".  I don't think it would be OK for the main screening fence/hedge/whatever, but it would look great around the edge of the lawn.  We were thinking of getting some woven in place hazel hurdles as a fence around that area, to allow it to follow the curve of the low stone wall, but a "fedge" planted just behind the wall would work very well, and could follow the curve.  Willow would do well in that area, too, as that area of the lawn is consistently wetter than the rest, as rain water tends to run down towards the low wall.

 

@Onoff, I've never seen that artificial, expanding hedging.  Not sure that SWMBO would accept it, or camo net, - we're currently having a bit of a "debate" about the acceptability of different solutions...........

 

Bamboo is an option, one of the very tall varieties, perhaps, but I'm not sure what it would look like in winter.  The stems might be enough to provide screening, I need to go and have a look at some to get a better idea.  The big advantage of bamboo is that it would grow quickly, and probably spread all along the top of the bank, and as well as providing screening its roots would probably help stabilise the soil.

 

Another option we're thinking of is to plant some mature trees.  It would mean taking the fence down to get access to plant them, but luckily I used big screws to fix the rails, so I can easily remove them to get a mini digger in.  Cost might be an issue, and we'd need to pick species that don't grow above about 4 to 5m, to prevent them from getting high enough to shade the solar panels.  We'd also need species that would provide some screening in winter.  I don't much like the idea of conifers, and whatever we plant ideally needs to have a short trunk, with spreading branches above car roof level.  Low level screening isn't really an issue, as the lane has virtually no foot traffic at al, and it's barely single track, so anyone in a car can't see the house from the lane, except out of a sun roof, they are too close to the bank.

 

I think we could probably get away with five, perhaps six, strategically placed mature trees, the big questions is the choice of species and the cost.  At a stretch we could go to around £1500 for trees and planting; any suggestions for suitable varieties would be welcome.  The top of the bank soil pH is neutral to slightly alkaline, pretty poor, as it's mainly stiff alluvial clay, plus some blue gault waste from the borehole, and the weeds that grow on it are the typical weeds seen on poor waste ground.  It is always moist, though.  I'm pretty sure that we'd need to add some compost/nutrients to the holes dug for any trees.

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I looked at buying mature trees for our last house.  There was a trade nursery reasonably close to where we used to stay (although damned if I can find it online or remeber the name). They were prepared to sell to me as I was looking to buy several specimens.  The problem was price, to get a truly mature specimen that has already grown to a reasonable size such that it immediately provides the screening you want, we were looking at several hundred (as in £500 or more) per tree, plus transport, plus excavator to plant them.  

 

One way round the problem is to over plant the area with younger, more affordable specimens and just accept that you will thin out some of the trees in due course. Obtaining specimens that are already 6' - 8' high is reasonably easy, albeit there won't be much body to them.

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@Stones, that's my fear, that the cost will be too high! 

 

I've been looking around this morning at online suppliers, and something like pleached Hornbeam might be an affordable option, with 8ft trees at around £200 each.  I need to go and have a look at them, to get an idea as to how well-grown they are first, though.

Edited by JSHarris

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@JSHarris Cherry laurel grows to around 4 or 5m is evergreen and grows 300 to 500mm a year. We had a laurel hedge at our last house for privacy reasons and kept it at about 3m.

Edited by PeterStarck

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@PeterStarck, Thanks, I've been pondering over laurel, mainly because it evergreen and tall plants don't seem overly expensive.

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On the whole garden privacy issue.

 

@JSHarris

 

Have you considered a relatively lightweight nursery fence for a few years while the hedge grows? I am think of something like wattle or bamboo matting, which should be OK given your microclimate. That could be quite inexpensive, and may attach directly to your post and rail depending on its strength or could be done with support from knocker posts and rails like a 6ft horse fence. Aside from the visual block panels that basic fence costs around £6 to £7 per metre run for materials, probably including fixings.

 

You could use a nursery hedge such as lleylandii or laurel while something more interesting grows behind or in front of it.

 

They quite happily support 2m fence panels in reasonably windy areas for a few years, but I think something more diffuse would be better in your valley.

 

My understanding of trellis over panel above 2m is in the "may get away with it" category.

 

It would probably only need 5 years to grow a good hedge from where you are now, and I think may help soften the quite high amount of hard landscaping you have.

 

I think that ultimately a hedge is a better option.

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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@Ferdinand, Thanks, yes I have been thinking about some sort of lightweight screen, the issue is that it needs to be quite high to be effective, and that might well attract attention from the powers that be.  As I understand it, planting a few mature trees away from your own boundary isn't a planning issue, normally.

 

Also, looking at the angles carefully, we don't need any screening below about 1.8 to 2m, what's needed is high level screening, which is one reason I've been thinking about a row of mature trees.  Bamboo may well also be an option, as it seems that there are some hardy, tall varieties that may provide all year screening, but ideally we need to go and look at some to see how well they might fit in.  Another point is that, by placing mature screening trees carefully, we don't need a continuous high level hedge, and it reduces the cost, as a few expensive mature trees may well be all that's needed.  I need to go out and try to measure the relative angles, but I think we could have some fairly wide gaps between screening trees and still have plenty of privacy, as the sight line "corridors" are quite narrow, being windows at each end.

 

I feel a long session drawing up some images of how things might look is called for.............

Edited by JSHarris

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What you need @JSHarrisis a row of pleeched trees, the picture shows a row of hornbeam that where chosen as it will retain a brown leaf in the winter like a beech hedge. I have installed many like this and is a good way of getting the screening at a height needed without the long term wait. 

IMG_2891.JPG

IMG_2892.JPG

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What you don't want @JSHarris is bamboo, it will spread like spilt diesel and will send shoots up in all manner of places, even if someone tells you "it's the non spreading one guvnor" they are telling porkies. 

Your budget of £1500 is not small but it's not very big either careful buying will be needed and maybe finding a local lad with a small digger to do the holes will save you some dosh. 

Local sourcing of the trees will save a lot on delivery so plenty of ringing about needed. 

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@Russell griffiths

 

Thanks, we were chatting about this over lunch in the pub today and have come to much the same conclusions.  Luckily we have a tree nursery within a very short drive, Landford Trees (http://www.landford-trees.co.uk/) and several more within an hour's drive.  We also have a chap in the village who should be able to give me a hand to plant them, so with luck it shouldn't be a major problem.

 

The plan is to go and have a look at Landford some time in the next week or so, to get an idea of what the various species look like, then sort out some strategic placements for them, as I've worked out that we only need to block three, fairly narrow, direct sight lines, then select a mix of trees that will best fit each location.  Having some shade over the part of the drive where we park the cars is another advantage of planting some trees, as long as we're careful to pick species that don't drip sap.

 

We've already discounted bamboo, more because we have a feeling that it would just look out of place than because of it's tendency to spread.  Hornbeam is certainly one of the favourites, there happened to be one right outside the pub we had lunch in and it looked ideal.  I think we may opt for a multi-trunk silver birch at one end, where privacy isn't a major concern, and plan to look at a couple of different tree privets as well.  We already have field maple growing in the hedge alongside the lane, along with hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose and hazel.  The hazel and field maple is already getting above the lower fence level, so I'm inclined to allow a few of the taller hedge plants to grow up to semi-fill the gaps between the trees at the top of the bank.  One consequence of the tall Leylandii being cut right down is that these hedging plants not get a great deal more light, so with luck they may put on more growth than they have over the past couple of years.

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Another good tree place is Majestic Trees - the website is also very good with a section about how to use trees for screening which you should read here. It's were we got 5 hornbeam to add some height to the garden and to give some privacy from the original house before we built in the back garden.  We got carpinus betulus fastigiata which is an upright 'tulip' shaped tree, we had looked at the pleeched hornbeam but the prices would make your eyes water!

A point to note is that now being now the proud owner of 8 fastigiata and 50m of hornbeam hedge I can tell you they don't hold their leaves as well as I thought they would, none of the fastigiata still have leaves after the autumn winds and only parts of the hedge does and its got a fence at one side of it.

I'll add a photo of my trees when I get home.

Finally I was surprised at how small the pots are on the trees, the Majestic Trees current stock list gives the size in litres, but even for the big tree I got it the hole was dug out by hand in a few minutes.

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@JSHarrisif you want evergreen and height then consider something such as Elaeagnus (Silverberry) that stays a nice evergreen and is easily trained to an espalier or pleached. 

 

Grasslands do a lot of topiary at 3/4 standard that would give you a 1.2m base to a 2.4m top - give them a call as they have a lot of stock normally. 

 

http://www.grasslands.co.uk/topiary/standards.html?gclid=CNrqjf_ct9QCFdeRGwod4D4O8w

 

 

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@Calvinmiddle, @PeterW, Thanks both.

 

I sketched out some sight lines last night, and there are three main  lines to block, and surprisingly, none are very wide.  They are all high, though, and the largest problem, the sight line from our central glazed gable to the kitchen and bedroom window of the house opposite needs a tree that's at least 3.5m high, preferably a bit taller, as it will have to be planted down the bank a bit to be clear of the fence.  The width of the canopy needed for that tree isn't massive, around 1.5m diameter would be just about OK.  This is the most critical bit of screening, so I think it will need an evergreen, or at least a tree with a dense canopy, perhaps one that retains some leaves through winter. 

 

The other two sight lines can be blocked with slightly smaller trees, and I think we could get away with deciduous species with a fairly dense canopy.  I'm reluctant to have all evergreens, as I think we need a variety of colour and shape.  As @Ferdinand mentioned, we already have a fair bit of hard landscaping, and it could do with being softened by some natural looking planting.

 

Nice to know that hand digging the holes is possible, as although we can get a minidigger up there, it does make a mess, even with boards down, and any soil that finds its way on to the permeable paving encourages weeds to grow, we found (they only started being a problem after we had a digger going up and down the drive when we were putting all the topsoil in where the lawn is).

Edited by JSHarris

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1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

The width of the canopy needed for that tree isn't massive, around 1.5m diameter would be just about OK.  This is the most critical bit of screening, so I think it will need an evergreen, or at least a tree with a dense canopy, perhaps one that retains some leaves through winter. 

 

Copper Beech would work and if you top it out at 4-5m it will soon create a decent canopy. Looks nice through the winter and has a fairly small root ball for a large tree to be transported.

 

If you can stagger the trees it looks better as a line will cause canopy restriction - placing a larger one 2-3m behind the others also gives a nice change in view as you move round.

 

If you have a site plan and rough idea of heights / spread needed I can give you some ideas

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Thanks, @PeterW, this is the plan I sketched up last night, showing the sight lines as red hatched areas:

 

593e576f9139f_Treeplanting.thumb.jpg.fd8a40582d967e93d6a68c890fdfad35.jpg

 

The stone slabs that form the path alongside the upper post and rail fence, next to the drive, are a mix of 900 x 600 and 600 x 600, to give an idea of scale (the sketch is to scale, I just converted it to a jpg to upload here).  There is a fairly steep bank between the two post and rail fences.  There are some native hedging plants right behind the lower fence, but they are pretty small, as they were half metre bare roots and have only really started to grow well this year, plus there are a few gaps where some have died.  The soil isn't good, it's mainly clay and blue gault, so whatever we plant will need bigger holes dug and some decent compost/soil I think.  I've sketched where I think ee could put trees, with the tallest and widest being needed in the centre.

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It might be interesting to make one fastigate or semi-fastigate as a contrast.

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We've finally got around to ordering trees, along with a great deal of help from the local tree nursery (Landford Trees - highly recommended).  We're planting two cherry trees either side of the entrance gate, Prunus Shogetsu, then a Himalyan Birch (Betula utilis jacquemontii), then a mixed row of Craeagus Pauls Scarlet,  Sorbus Lutecens, two large Ilex Nellie R stevens as primary screening.  Finally, towards the end there will be a Fagus Atropurpurea, and possibly a Thuja Plicata,

 

The latter is the only one that causes me some concern.  We will be buying mature (~4m high) specimens of the key screening trees, and the nursery had advised that we can maninatin the conical shape of the Thuja Plicata by regular and careful pruning.  This isn't a problem, as we like the look of the tree, my question is whether or not we can keep this treee looking tidy.  I have adverse experiences of trying to keep Leylandii in check , and this makes me wonder whether or not it's practical to keep a Thuja in shape or not.

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That's what we don't want!

 

Most of the trees we've chosen will either never grow very tall, or are slow growing and easily shaped.  The one that worries me is the Thuja Plicata - Western Red Cedar.  The tree place reckon it can be trimmed and kept in shape to maintain it at the 4 to 4.5m height we need, but I'm not so sure.

 

I've little experience of this particular tree, but a lot of experience (all negative) with the thug called Leylandii...................

 

I'm tempted to swap it out for a fairly mature Holm Oak, the evergreen one, as I know that can be kept trimmed to a nice looking shape.

Edited by JSHarris

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