PLEACHED TREES

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There are usually three reasons clients opt to plant pleached trees – privacy, privacy and privacy.

Screen pleaching creates a wonderfully dense but attractive visual barrier.

There are two ways to go about planting pleached trees. You can either plant mature trees that are traditionally trained for 2 – 5 years (in some cases much longer – 10 or even 20 years plus), or choose freshly pleached ones which are made to order. Fresh pleaching allows exact tree specifications in terms of frame size, stem height and stem girth to be dictated by the customer. This freshly pleached method offers great flexibility and choice and is the most economical approach for those with constrained budgets.

Pleached Hornbeam
Carpinus betulus (Betulaceae)
The most popular deciduous pleached species sold in the United Kingdom by far, due to its many outstanding qualities.
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Pleached Hornbeam ‘Lucas’
Carpinus betulus ‘Lucas’ (Betulaceae)
The Hornbeam ‘Lucas’ is a relative newcomer (2003) It produces long slender branches, recovers well after pruning and generates new growth reasonably quickly.
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Pleached Common Beech
Fagus sylvatica (Fagaceae)
The Common Beech is one of the most majestic native trees in the British Isles. It positively enjoys being managed in a formal compact fashion.
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Pleached Copper Beech
Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’, Fagus sylvatica Purpurea (Fagaceae)
Like the Fagus sylvatica the Fagus sylvatica ‘Atropunicea’, is an imposing tree. Careful consideration needs to be given to the positioning of this trees due to its striking purple colour in spring.
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Pleached Lime
Tilia cordata ‘Rancho’ (Tiliaceae)
The cultivar Tilia cordata ‘Rancho’ is ideal for planting along paths, driveways and avenues. The year-round interest created by this small compact tree ensures it is fast becoming a firm favourite.
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Pleached Yew Hicksii
Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’ (Taxaceae)
One of the smallest yews in the family. Dark green needles, a profusion of red berries in late summer and autumn. A slow growing species which requires little maintenance apart from a light clip every so often.
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Pleached Yew
Taxus Baccata (Taxaceae)
Taxus baccata is native to the British Isles and considered by many to be the most elegant and stylish evergreen specie available. The small tightly knit needle like leaves and compact habit create a very tidy formal appearance.
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Pleached Portuguese Laurel
Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’ (Rosacae)
With its close-knit tidy habit, small narrow glossy dark green leaves and red stems the Portuguese Laurel makes for an ideal candidate for training in a formal habit.
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Pleached Cherry Laurel
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Novita’ (Rosaceae)
Novita is a quick growing evergreen with tree like qualities. A relatively new cultivar it is a hardy plant with mid green leaves which provides solid screening.
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Pleached Cherry Laurel ‘Caucasica’
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Caucasica’ (Rosaceae)
Another hardy cultivar of the popular Cherry Laurel, the ‘Caucasica’ has a vigorous upright growth habit and well suited to being managed in a formal fashion.
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Pleached Photinia Red Robin
Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’ (Rosaceae)
The pleached Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’, is the most widely sold evergreen screen on the market. Fast growing, it is the most competitive too.
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Pleached Holly
Ilex Aquifolium ‘Nellie Stevens’
A small to medium sized evergreen tree ideal for screening purposes due to its compact habit. This cultivar produces a mass of red berries which linger long into the winter.
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Pleached Elaeagnus
Elaeagnus ebbingei (Elaeagnaceae)
An outstanding evergreen which really enjoys being managed. Elaeagnus is highly regarded for its sweet fragrance and tiny bell-shaped white flowers
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Pleached Field Maple
Acer campestre ‘Huibers Elegant’ (Aceraceae)
The Field Maple ‘Huibers Elegant’ share many of the same qualities as the Acer campestre ‘Elsrijk’. It is characterised by its beautiful small leaves.
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Pleached Field Maple
Acer campestre ‘Elsrijk’ (Aceraceae)
The popular Field Maple ‘Elsrijk’ is characterised by its small delicate green leaves and neat uniform oval crown.
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Pleached Holm Oak
Quercus ilex
The Quercus ilex is a beautiful large evergreen Oak tree, with small dark green leaves, capable of living for thousands of years. One of the very best upmarket evergreen species available.
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Pleached Persian Ironwood
Parrotia persica (Hamamelidaceae)
Deciduous trees don’t come much better than the Persian Ironwood. It's leaves start off dark green and change to dark red/purple as the season progresses.
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Pleached Crab Apple
Malus Toringo ‘Scarlett’
Widely regarded as the most popular red leaved Crab Apple on the market. Young deep red leaves contrast superbly with the long-lasting dark pink blossom in spring.
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Pleached Crab Apple ‘Evereste’
Malus ‘Evereste’, Malus perpetu ‘Evereste’ (Rosaceae)
The Crab Apple Malus ‘Evereste’ is a beautiful disease resistant, compact ornamental tree, providing white blossom in spring and colourful orange red fruit in autumn.
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Pleached Magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora ‘Galissoniere’ (Magnoliaceae)
Southern Magnolia is a classic evergreen cultivar grown for planting against walls and creating natural formal divides and garden structures.
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Pleached Sweet Gum
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ (Hamamelidaceae)
The Sweet Gum has a wonderful habit and beautiful Maple like leaves. They emerge in spring bright green and from September onwards they put on a show which is almost unrivalled by any other tree.
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Pleached Leylandii
Cupressocyparis leylandii (Cupressaceae)
This very large evergreen hybrid is used widely for large and small screening due to its fast growth habit and dense conical crown.
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Pleached Hawthorn ‘Paul Scarlet’
Crataegus laevigata ‘Coccinea Plena’, Crataegus oxycantha ‘Paul Scarlet’, (Rosaceae)
The tree produces a beautiful floral display of stunning bright red fragrant blossom which can last from the end of May to July.
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Pleached Cornelian Cherry
Cornus mas (Cornaceae)
The Cornus mas produces a beautiful early blossom in February/March which completely covers the tree in small yellow flowers.
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Our freshly pleached trees start with trunk circumference size of 12-14cm to more mature trees with trunk circumference of 18-20cm and in some species 20-25cm. Having them freshly pleached to order offers great flexibility and choice. The most suitable trees for fresh pleaching are Carpinus betulus (Hornbeam) and Fagus sylvatica (Beech) but others include Fagus sylvatica Atropunicea, (Purple Beech), Carpinus betulus ‘Lucas’, Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’(Sweet Gum), Acer campestra (Field Maple), Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood), Malus Evereste (Crab Apple), Pyrus (Pear).

Examples of our Pleached Trees

The difference between traditional or freshly pleached

Traditionally pleached trees are trained from a young age for several years. The screening tends to be established and dense and in most cases, they offer immediate cover and the results are very impressive.

A freshly pleached one on the other hand, normally takes 2-3 seasons to fill out to create dense screening. We are happy to discuss your requirements, which species would be suitable in your garden and which would best suit your budget. Only the very best young trees with a nice clear stem are selected, whether the traditional or fresh methods are used.

What are Espalier?

There is a third method used to create screens, known as Espalier, which involves training the branches to divide the frame into equally spaced horizontal lines – typically 5 to 7 floors at 30-40cm intervals. This is done primarily for architectural effect so that the bare lateral branches and summer leaf habit can be appreciated. The previous seasons growth is pruned back hard in winter to the main laterals. Some species lend themselves especially well towards being managed this way. Our range of espalier trees starts with young trees in trunk size 12-14cm, to mature specimen trees in sizes 35-40cm and above.

The popular species used for training Espalier trees include, Tillia cordata ‘Greenspire’ (Lime), Malus d. ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ (Apple), Malus d. ‘Elstar’ (Apple), Malus d. ‘Rode Boskoop’ (Apple), Malus d. ‘Gravensteiner’ (Apple), Pyrus c. ‘Conference’ (Pear), Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ (Pear), Malus d ‘Sterappel’ (Apple), Malus ‘Evereste’ (Crab Apple), Platanus hispanica ‘Malburg’ (Plane Tree), Platanus orientalis ‘Minaret’ (Plane), Quercus palustris (Pin Oak or Swamp Oak), Tilia europaea ‘Euchlora’ (Lime), Tilia europaea ‘Pallida’ (Lime), Tilia platyphylios (Lime)

Trees for privacy

pleached screening for privacy in gardenUnlike walls and fences that may need planning permission to extend beyond their standard height, there is no legislation in place at present to govern the planting of screening trees. Because of this we often find that pleached and espalier trees are planted in front of walls and fences to create added privacy without the fuss of having to approach the relevant authorities for permission to extend walls and fences.

While a high garden wall or fence can be rather unsightly and unneighbourly, particularly for small gardens. we often find that planners actively promote the planting of trees instead. In 99% of cases, screening trees planted in front of a wall or fence have a huge positive impact. They create added architectural interest and can bring a monotonous boring wall or fence to life. We often hear customers say they have completely transformed their gardens. In our experience neighbours enjoy the addition too. This is probably why they are becoming increasingly popular around the world.

How do I plant Pleached or Espalier Trees?

An important consideration when planting pleached or espalier trees is the slope of the ground. Ideally the stem/frame of each tree should line up when planting is finished to create the desired effect. These type of trees work best when they are planted on flat or gently sloping ground. Doing so will line up the frames and stems and creating the effect of one continuous line when viewed at all angles. Even on a gradual slope this effect can be achieved. However with a slope of more than 10-12 degrees it will be necessary to step the trees/frames when planting. The frames can be manipulated to account for perhaps 15 degree slopes, but anything above this, will require stepping.

To create a good visual effect it is important to line up the stems and frames of each tree. To make sure this is achieved the planting holes should measure double the width of the rootball or pot where possible. This will give each rootball the space to be moved and fine tuned so that the stems and frames line up to create a straight line.  See our full planting guide here.

Care and maintenance

With regards to maintenance, you simply need to be trimming using shears or a hedge cutter once or twice a year, much like any hedge. It really is as simple as that. Pruning regularly will encourage the screens to fill out and thicken up to create a tight compact network of branches – exactly what you need to create a solid screen in the spring, summer and autumn months. We recommend the Stihl range of hedge cutters and extendable hedge cutters for this job. A sturdy work platform may be needed to access the tallest trees.

Espalier trees are maintained by hand. At the end of each season, new growth is removed, leaving only the main lateral branches to remain. For this job we recommend using secatuers, loppers and pruning saws and a sturdy platform to work from, this is all that is required. At Hedgeworx we recommend the professional Silky range of handsaws as well as secateurs and loppers offered by Felco. Please remember to wear hand and eye protection when using handtools such as these.

Try to avoid trimming hedges during hot periods unless the ground has plenty of moisture in it – this especially applies to evergreen screens.

How are the Screens made?

Mature Pleached or screen trees start life as a seedling or cutting, much like any other tree, being repotted or replanted a number of times in their formative years. They grow happily on the nursery with hundreds or even thousands of other trees. When the time is right, highly skilled nurserymen and woman go out into the field with tags in hand and pick the very best trees for pleaching. The criteria for choosing the best trees for training includes, selecting those with the straightest stems, healthy root stock and appropriately spreading and uninform crowns. Once tagged and lifted the trees are loaded onto trailers and sent to potting sheds for training.

Training is usually performed best with a team of two or three skilled nurserymen. The first job is to clear the stems of all foliage to a predetermined height – Popular ‘clean stem’ heights include 120cm, 150cm 160cm, 180cm, 200cm and 210cm – determined by the average height of walls and fences found throughout the United Kingdom… continue reading