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Hazel fencing

There are a myriad of ways you can create privacy but the first step is to consider how to define your garden boundary and what material to use.

The expensive option is to construct your garden boundary using stone or brick. There are numerous advantages here as a well-built wall is attractive, strong, long lasting and makes a positive immediate contribution to the garden and environment as a whole. So if you are staying in your home for a long time it might be well worth the investment.

For a contemporary look, walls made using concrete blocks with a rendered and painted finish are a popular choice but for most of us, expense dictates we ‘make do’ with timber fencing.

There are many different styles of timber fencing such woven hurdles in hazel or willow, bamboo screens and various post and rail systems. Horizontally slatted timber panels are a welcome change from traditional closeboard fencing and give a contemporary, stylish appearance which sits well with the organic nature of plants.

Most timber panels are pressure treated softwood but pricier hardwoods last much longer. Steer clear of those nasty orange panels and buy the best you can afford. After all if you are spending hundreds of pounds on plants, then give them a lasting and effective backdrop.

One of my favourite options for a boundary is hedging – cheap, easy to maintain and always looks good. Erect a simple wire mesh fence to fix the boundary line if necessary and allow the hedge to grow through and eventually conceal the fence itself.

Hedging plants can be bought in varying sizes and for those wanting instant impact you can buy ‘instant impact’ hedges as much as 2 metres high.

There is a lot of choice too - evergreen hedges like holly and laurel, flowering hedges like viburnum and hawthorn, hedges with colourful foliage or native hedging to attract wildlife. If you have heavy soil, deciduous hornbeam with its crimped bight green leaves is an excellent choice. However my favourite is evergreen yew which, unlike hideous leylandii, is easy to maintain, can be regenerated from old wood and has a much longer lifespan.

There is no legal height limit for hedges and so theoretically you can let them grow as high as you like. This is not necessarily desirable. Apart from overshadowing your neighbours garden and causing annoyance,

a solid hedge can sometimes be quite overpowering and detract from your garden as a whole.

From a design point of view you need to decide whether you want to emphasise, embrace or disguise your boundaries; this is where planting in general can help, for example

  • A mass of plants in front of the boundary baffles the eye and disguises it

  • Bold planting with vertical emphasis or interesting foliage creates interest and again distracts the eye from the boundary.

  • Where space is tight and a height is required, pleached hedging or a ‘hedge on stilts’ might be the answer. Again these can be bought ready-made and offer instant impact.

  • Climbers can soften and unify the boundaries particularly when a single species is used more than once.

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