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Hornbeam Trees

Q.Planting 6m Hornbeam Trees – effective screening all year round?

Zone uk | ateepstera added on March 7, 2019 | Answered

Hello there

Does anyone have any recommendations for a problem we are facing regarding trying to screen our property?

We live on a steep hill, bordered on one side by an old 2.5 m high 12 m long stone wall which acts as a terrace for the land up the hill. The area is relatively sheltered from wind etc.

I need to create a screen along this wall which will effectively reach another 2-3 metres above the height of the wall and unfortunately, I need it fast (this year) and for the entire length of the wall.

We are thinking of planting a row of established 6m Hornbeams in front of the wall to provide the screening.

Looking at:
6-10 x 6m high Hornbeam to reach the top of the wall then provide enough screening to be effective (it is a really steep hill)

We are trying to figure out whether pleached would work but looks £££, high maintenance and can’t find 6m high so probably just fastigata(?)

My main concern is that they are deciduous: although they hang on to their leaves when juvenile, I’ve read that when they get to maturity as trees they have a tendency to drop which would obviously compromise the screening (unlike all the local Hornbeam hedges I’ve seen in the last week or so)

Also worried that even a 6m tree might take a couple of years to get established enough to form a screen?

Not too worried about the (1m thick, v sturdy) wall as apparently the roots for hornbeams are OK for that.

I spoke to a garden centre salesperson who said that we should consider Ligustrum Japonica/um as an alternative as they are evergreen. Does anyone agree/disagree?

So many thanks in advance for your thoughts – I’m such a newbie and this is a decision that I am prepared to spend a fair chunk on so really want to get it right!

Thank you!

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Answered on March 7, 2019

"Steep slope" is a key issue. Who do you have lined up to bring in large boxed trees for an instant hedge, and plant them on a steep slope? It can be a big job with a crane assist required. Most trees and shrubs will have a hard time with steep slope conditions, unless you are able to terrace and provide a level planting bed and watering basin.
You need to water deeply and thoroughly, especially during the first two years as the plants establish a root system.
Otherwise you could spend a small fortune and them lose them.

I only see UK indicated as your location. There are several climate zones, elevations and varying conditions for plant selection in the UK, so best to go with the local garden center recommendations. I would be inclined to think an evergreen large shrub / small tree, like the privet that was suggested, or a laurel hedge, or bamboo would be more appropriate and faster growing for the screening purpose you have indicated.

The Royal Horticultural Society of the UK has some good articles and suggestions.

Also consider planting or fencing along the uphill side of the retaining wall if you can get neighbor cooperation. That will reduce the shrub height requirement. Planted along the downhill side of the wall they will have much higher to grow before achieving the screening effect.

Hope that helps, Don

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