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I have a small/average size garden for a typical suburban house, maybe 30ft by 30ft. I have a large patio and then grass with a border at the back and one either side. Having ripped out the existing garden when we moved into the house 2 years ago and replaced all the fencing, i wanted something that would quickly hide the 'new fence' look. Along one side I have a quick growing honeysuckle that is thriving and along the back i have another honeysuckle and a cematis, blossom tree and a small apple tree, soon to be joined with a blackberry bush  The main feature along the back is 2 red robins, which i love and are thriving but I am never sure if they look right.

I have been told by a neighbour who is supposedly in to plants, that I should take them out as they have no place in a garden like ours!

any comments please, or recommendations for a replacement. the back fence gets pretty much full sun, soil is heavy (especially with all this rain!)

Paul N

Red Robins are fine, we have one, and are much liked by the local parks department. I presume your knowledgable neighbour think they are out of place because they eventually grow a bit large, but so will many shrubs if they aren't pruned. They aren't fast growing and I think I've pruned ours just the once. And what other shrub provides attractive flashes of scarlet in April?


LOL - When I first got my allotment many years ago, my elderly neighbour would make daft comments like that. And you know what I did - totally ignored every one of them. hahaha Just who's garden is it anyway, yes exactly !!!

Leave them where they are.


I do not understand the "look right" comment, if you like them keep them. Your neighbours advice may be well meaning but it is his opinion and you can ignore him if you wish.

Paul N

I think we're being a bit tough with the neighbour. Maybe he mean't that it would grow to large for such a smallish garden. If he said the same thing about a Leylandii, we'd all agree with him, but in this case, he's wrong.



If he/she meant too large, wrong soil type, wrong aspect it would have been helpful to say so, then you could make an informed decision. If it's a matter of taste then you go for it f_g!

actually he is a bit of a know it sitting in my sun room now looking out at my wet and windy garden and the red robins do bring a welcome bit of colour, as Paul N said!

You are all right! Its my garden and if I like something, it stays! Im new to this garden thing and am desperate to get it right, even if i dont have age or experience on my side!


It's your choice.  If you like the shape and the fioliage and the colour then they're in the right place.  If they get too big you can prune them.  They make very good hedging plants and produce new red leaves when clipped so you can keep them to a reasonable size and even shape them into something more formal like columns or lollipops    It's up to you.

I planted a 'Red Robin' 18 months ago and didn't realise they dislike an alkaline soil!  It's doing ok but I'm having to water with feed for acid loving plants to ensure it gets enough iron as the leaves are yellowing.  It is a lovely plant at this time of year so I'm really hoping I can keep mine going!  I say go for it if your soil type is right and you like them..


If you like them keep them. I love mine and at the moment it is the reddest I've ever seen it. A fabulous colour at a time when there's not much in bloom. You can keep it the size you want, and a little pruning keeps it producing red leaves.


Not much in bloom?  Round here in the acid pockets it's heaving with rhodos and azaleas and assorted prunus, malus, spiraeas and viburnums in bloom.  Alkaline gardens are a bit different but mine is full of daffs and tulips, forget-me-nots and bergenias and fresh foliage on cornus and acers.  The amelanchier has just gone over but the malus are starting and the hellebores, honesty and pulmonarias are fabulous.

My neighbour has a row approx 8ft from my kitchen window and they are lovely to look at but they grow so quickly they block the light and the sun from my kitchen window and patio. We have previously asked for them to be cut back and they have duly obliged, however they are not gardeners and all along our 100ft garden, their shrubs  are so overgrown on their side that we have 4ft of perputal shade on our otherwise narrow garden (faces west/slightly north/west).  Can I remove height from my side legally?

Paul N

They don't like alkaline soil, Abby? Really? Our garden is on the North Downs with solid chalk only a few feet below the soil level. No signs of stress with our shrub. I've even got a rhododenron growing pretty happily too. I mulch it well in the spring and give it a dose of sequestered iron once in a blue moon, and she flowers beautifully.


titchdog, no you can only remove vegetation that crosses the fence.  To reduce the height, I imagine you would have to cut on the neighbour's side of the fence, and that you cannot do.  If you do remove stuff back to the fence line, and no further, you must return what you cut off to the neighbour.

You can complain to the council if a high hedge is impacting on your enjoyment of your property, however, before proceeding down this route, you must have first tried to resolve it amicably with your neighbour, and taking it to the council should be a last resort.

There are places on the internet that says the max height of a hedge should be no more than 2m, but there is no max height, and the council will consider the location of the hedge before determining how much a high hedge should be reduced by - they may consider it reasonable that a hedge can still be over 2m.

Other factors are that the hedge has to be semi or permanent evergreen! There must be at least two shrubs or trees in a row, be at least 2m in height, it must form a barrier, to light or access, and it must adversily affect your enjoyment of your property by virtue of its height - however, If there is a problem caused by hedge roots, the council will not get involved.

If the council is satisfied you have done all you can to reslove amicably, and they agree that a hedge is preventing enjoyment of your property, they will issue a remedial notice to the hedge owner to require them to reduce the hedge height. Once the hedge is reduced, it must continue to be maintained at that height.

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