Start a new thread

1 to 15 of 15 replies



I have recently moved into a new house and have a square lawn garden with earth borders on two sides next to fences. I would like to add more screenage and plant trees, or shrubs, climbers, in those earth borders in front of the fences. What sort of trees or shrubs would be ideal to plant, possibly those that are fast growing. And what's sort of trees/shrubs can be planted in the next couple of months?



Ashleigh 2

Hi Babs,

Why don't you get hold of some garden catalogues and see what catches your eye and then you can ask about the suitability of specific plants, there are a lot of experienced gardeners on here (not me I'm afraid) who will be happy to help you, I've only recently started using this forum and I'm learning something new everyday. It would be good if you can work out how the sun moves over your garden - or would if it ever stops raining - Also what you want from your garden, fruit and veg or flowers, or both, how low maintenance you want it to be, colour schemes you like, formal or cottage garden etc. Try putting beautiful garden into an image search and see if inspiration strikes, happy gardening 



 Hi, thank you for your responses. I have attached three photos of the garden. As you can see it is a blank slate. Behind the concrete panels at the back is a cemetery, so no  neighbours there then!

The width of the earth borders by the fences are approximately 60cm. I would quite like trees, fruit trees would be good, ones that can grow fairly quickly and provide privacy for us. Obviously at  the side of the house I have to be mindful of neighbours, so perhaps climbers or shrubs. I am also planning to put up a small trellis fence on top of the fences you see, to provide more privacy. The garden does have a slope and as the garden comes down to the house the fencing gets smaller. At the end of the day I would like to create more of a private garden. 



There appears to be a lot of trees at the bottom but it is not clear how close they are to the boundary, it is possible that roots from these may determine how successful your efforts will be.

It is also noted that your neighbour has a greenhouse and, presuming he uses it, as a gardener he would be able to give advice as to the suitability of the soil etc. You could ask him which could be an ice-breaker and the beginning of a friendship as gardeners like to talk...

Of course any gardener next door could be a "she"!
Jess is in the Garden

Oooooh Babs, a massive blank canvas to get your teeth into - how exciting! There are free garden design programs online now, that you can play with to see what sort of designs you may like. 


amongst others.

Agree that the best thing is also to browse books, magazines, websites...can give you loads of ideas. 

Visit gardens too (RHS to a great membership), as well as parks and anywhere with a bit of green - write down what you like the look of and take photos. You can ID things later on.

As iGrow says, ask next door about their garden - find out what exposure yours has, what the soil is like etc - really important for deciding what will grow best and thrive, rather than thrashing it out with plants that may be unhappy in a particular spot or soil.

Go to garden centres as well, just to look at plants you may like and read the labels!  I used to do that loads and also chat to the more knowledgeable plant staff, who gave me tips and advice.

Above all, don't expect for a minute that you'll create your dream garden in one season and leave it that way. It takes time, loads of mistakes and lots of love and attention. It's a process, rather than a task to be finished. And above all, it's loads of fun - so enjoy!



The first thing I would do is widen those borders to at least a metre.  You will still have plenty of lawn. 

There may actually be something in those borders that are yet to show themselves so a bit of patience may save you some cash. Again your new neighbour will possibly know something.

Thanks everyone for your help.

In response to some points made, the trees at the bottom of the garden behind the fence are actually in a cemetery and there is a public footpath between them and the concrete fence, which is why I would like some privacy as it is possible to see into our garden from the footpath, I suppose that is the more important area and the most suitable area for trees. If the borders up there are about 60cm would it be necessary to extend them to 1 metre? I have actually been in this property since July but have just not had the time to do anything with the garden, apart from get a gardener in to clear the weeds where the borders are. The gardener did give us some ideas of what trees to put at the back, but I just don't know where to start! And how many trees would start to give us some privacy at the back?

Thanks for your help.



You could fan train fruit trees along the concrete fence.  They will act as a storage radiator for heat, and so you could probably grow apricots as well as apples and pears and  sweet cherries. Morello cherry would go on a north facing fence.

I would increase the depth of the borders as well, and then you could grow some veg in front of the fruit trees.


First thing I would do is find a spade and have a dig! See what state the soil is in. New build houses unfortuately sometimes use garden as a dumping ground, cover with 6" of topsoil n turf. 

Most important thing to do is get the soil right, then you won't waste money and get fustrated watching plants struggle.



The house was built in 1959 and I did do some digging in the late summer, mainly weeding. How would I know when the soil is right?

Hi Babs

Sounds like you are desperate to get started! Re the soil, good advice to have a dig. You may have very good soil, but even so it would be a good idea to add some compost to the existing borders, and in a month or so some slow release fertilizer like fish blood and bone or bonemeal - especially if you plan to plant shrubs. This will ensure that you don't spend money on - and a lot of time planting - things that then don't thrive. There are lots and lots of plants to choose from - most things will romp away if the conditions are right. Now is a really good time to chuck muck on the soil, so that the worms can work it in and get your borders ready for planting.

You need to try and work out if the soil is acid, neutral or very alkaline. Likely to be neutral, but if your neighbours are all growing whopping rhododendrons, or conifers, could be acid. If your soil has a lot of chalk in it, again, no point planting things that like acid conditions. You also need to see whether it is heavy clay, very well drained or somewhere in the middle. In the current weather if it's heavy clay you are likely to have a lot of water on the surface. Actually, in the current weather ANYONE is likely to have a lot of water on the surface! ask your neighbours. There are plants that will thrive in water-retentive ground, whereas others really like it on the dry side.

I know this all sounds a bit dull when you are desperate to get plants in the ground, but like a lot of other gardeners on this forum I have learnt a lot from my mistakes and no longer try to grow what will not thrive in my garden. Gardens can eat money! There is always a lot of choice of plants, no matter what your conditions (unless you are in a desert or on a mountain top!) it's often more a question of narrowing down your options.

Also be wary of going down the "fast growing "route. Seems a nice idea  to buy things that will grow quickly but in practise, they can outgrow their welcome and become a bit of a thug that needs constant pruning.

Wish I could say "plant this" but really recommend you go to a good garden centre, have a look round and collar somebody knowledgeable. If you are interested in trees and shrubs, better still seek out a specialist nursery. Time spent carefully planning now will save you a lot of time, money and heartache in the long run.

Good luck!

Scott Edwards

My general advice on where to start would be:

  • Be patient. Don't rush into planting too quickly. Firstly observe which parts of the garden are in full sun for most of the day, which bits are in shade most of the day and which bits are going to be sunny for part of the day and in the shade for part of the day. If you plant the right plant in the right place (a shade loving plant in a shady spot) it will flourish. If you plant a  sun lover in the shade it will either die or look a sorry state. A little time spent observing your site at this stage will save you wasting money.
  • Find out what soil you have. Is it sandy, clay or chalk. Again, different plants prefer different conditions. Your neighbour may be able to give you some advice.
  • Increase the size of your borders. You need the boarders to be deep enough to be able to plants in groups rather than single plants. Groups of odd numbers (3, 5, 7 ... look most natural as a general rule). This can of course be expensive so don't feel you got to do all of the garden in one go. Maybe do one border one year and another the following year.
  • I would encourage you to improve the soil by adding lots of compost. The soil on new build sites is often poor. Good soil results in healthy plants. If your soil is heavy clay you may need to add grit.
  • When you get to the point of planting aim to get a balance of a few small trees, some shrubs, some evergreen plants that will give you some structure in the winter and perennial flowers. A few tips I would offer is to have a few focus plants, keep things simple by having larger groups of fewer plants. Repeating the same plant at different places in the garden can unify a garden design.
  • Work out How much time you've got and how much time you want to spend in the garden. If you're retired and love gardening you can have a garden full of plants and be in seventh heaven. If you have a demanding job and young children a lower maintenance scheme might be the order of the day.
  • The choice of what to plant is extensive. One tip is to have a look at what is growing well in your street and neighbourhood. If a plant is growing well a few doors away there's every chance it will do well in yours.
  • Some possible trees: crab apples, cornus controversy variegate and Japanese Acres and Magnolia Stellata's are some of my personal favourites.
  • With regard to shrubs Buddleja's and Lavatera's are fast growing and good doers. I personally love the scent of Philadelphus (mock oranges), virburnums and Daphne.
  • With regard to smaller perennials, there are an almost endless choice. I would recommend hardy geraniums as being a good plant for a new gardener. There are hundreds of different types but Geranium Rozanne flowers its socks of.
  • You might like to consider what colour scheme you would like. Some people love pastel colours such as blues and purples which are relaxing and some prefer oranges and reds that have a zing about them.
  • Finally, simply enjoy being out in the fresh air. I planted my first plant as a result of moving into my first home. I have found it to be a great way to unwind.
  • Good Luck and happy gardening.


Thank you Ginglygangly and Scott for your time and very useful advice, it is much appreciated. I won't have a lot of time so a low maintenance system would be beneficial. From all the replies I have here, I have lots to think about and as you say not to rush into anything.

Thanks again.


Hi babs, sorry I assumed it was new build because the garden is just lawn, amazing to think it been like that for 55 years!

As has been said once you Have decided on the planting area, dig over the soil, remove any large stones, add organic matter to it( compost or well rotted manure). This will improve the soil if it's sandy or clay.

its hard work,but so worth it.

Sign up or log in to post a reply