Garden Q&A: garden screens to create privacy in small spaces

Horticultural advice from the experts at the RHS
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Question: My garden is overlooked by houses and I'd love to have a tree that would screen at least some of it out. I was tempted by bamboo but everyone tells me it takes over, and I'm not sure I could manage it.

Can you suggest something that would grow to about 10ft in height but wouldn't overpower a small garden? The back width is about 12ft and the bed is about 3ft deep.

Answer: Bamboo can be rather unsociable when it doesn’t respect garden boundaries. The exception is Fargesia murielae, a species that grows to around 12ft and forms clumps about one-metre wide. The leaves are dainty and the sound of the wind through the foliage is relaxing if you’re outside. Not all bamboos are out of the question.

Evergreen trees that do not grow immense are hard to come by, but there is a species of privet - Ligustrum lucidum that is vigorous and will do the job well. It won’t mind being pruned. Eriobotrya japonica, the loquat is very architectural and like the privet can be bought as a tree or shrub. Other evergreens to consider are Photinia ‘Red Robin’, Prunus lusitanica and Quercus ilex – the holm oak. All of these can be trained as trees with a clear stem.

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