There has been much media attention on the loss of trees in our towns and cities, which can partly be attributed to an overly cautious approach by insurers and councils. Urban tree planting is absolutely essential to maintain a healthy environment in built-up areas, especially for the people and animals that reside in them. By creating more privacy in your own space, you are contributing to greening our towns and cities for future generations to enjoy. Producing clean air for us to breathe, trees also remove pollutants that could otherwise contribute to health problems.
Concern is often expressed over the spread of a tree’s roots and the damage that these may cause to foundations, boundary walls or neighbouring properties. With the right plant chosen for the right place, this need not be a problem and by installing a root protection membrane at planting time, this will assist in restricting a root’s development and spread. However, soil type and soil structure should also be a consideration when making your choices. Gardens on chalk or sandy soils are less likely to cause problems than those on heavy clay, and the larger the tree, the higher the water uptake will be. Long hot summers can quickly cause soils to dry out, encouraging roots to seek out moisture beyond their natural canopy – this is known as ‘seasonal soil moisture deficit’, because the soil will have a chance to rewet following winter rains. Ensuring the correct watering regime will greatly assist in preventing potential problems arising. View the Nicholsons Planting and Watering Guidelines here for more information.
Consider the intended purpose of planting screening trees in your urban garden – perhaps you wish to create more privacy from a neighbouring property, or if your boundaries are roadside, to reduce noise levels.
The optimum recommendation must be pleached screens (pictured right) – this method of training young branches over a supporting framework provides instant impact and is often referred to as ‘a hedge on stilts’. The height of the clear stem can be tailor-made on some species to accommodate different fence and wall heights. Taking up minimum ground space, they are a good option where garden space is limited and here are some suggestions of trees in this form available to view on the Plant Centre.