There are usually three reasons clients opt to plant pleached trees – privacy, privacy and privacy.
Pleached tree screening creates a wonderfully dense but attractive visual barrier.
There are two ways to go about planting them. 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 trees 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.
Carpinus betulus (Betulaceae)
The most popular deciduous pleached tree sold in the United Kingdom by far, due to its many outstanding qualities.
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.
Taxus baccata is native 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.
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, these clear stems can be in a variety of heights. Having them made 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), ‘Lucas’, Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’(Sweet Gum), Acer campestra (Field Maple), Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood), Malus Evereste (Crab Apple) and Pyrus (Pear).
The difference between traditional or freshly pleached trees
Traditionally pleached or mature pleached trees are trained on bamboo frames from a young age for several years. The screening usually sits on top of a clear stem and tends to be established and dense and in most cases, they offer immediate privacy screening and the results are very impressive.
Those which are freshly pleached on the other hand, come on a clear stem but normally take 2-3 seasons to fill out their bamboo frames 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 traditional or fresh pleached trees are required.
Most species are available in pots, cocoa root ball or root ball plants. Contact us if you need help selecting the best specimens for your particular requirements and situation, our knowledge and customer service are second to none.
What are Espalier?
There is a third method used to create screens which is popular with garden designers, known as Espalier. It involves training trees so the branches divide the frame into equally spaced horizontal lines – typically 5 to 7 floors at 30-40cm intervals. it’s done primarily for architectural effect and to provide year round interest, as opposed to privacy screening, so that the bare lateral branches and summer leaf habit can be appreciated. The previous seasons growth is pruned back hard in winter. 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.
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
Unlike walls and fence panels that may need planning permission to extend beyond their standard height, there is no legislation in place at present to govern the planting of trees. Because of this we often find that pleached and espalier trees are planted in front of walls and fences to create added privacy screening without the fuss of having to approach the relevant authorities for permission to extend walls and fences. This makes them appealing to home owners and garden designers alike.
While a high garden wall or fence panels can be rather unsightly and un-neighbourly, 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 year round architectural interest and can bring a monotonous boring wall or fence to life. We often hear customers say they have completely transformed their garden space. In our experience neighbours enjoy the addition too. This is probably why they are becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Pleached and Espalier Trees planting advice
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 types of trees work best when they are planted on flat or gently sloping ground. Doing so will line up the bamboo frames and stems, 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 ground level 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 pleached tree planting guide.
Care and maintenance
With regards to maintenance of pleached trees, 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 any type of trained trees or hedges during hot periods unless the ground has plenty of moisture in it – this especially applies to evergreen screens.
Our customer service and aftercare support is second to none, so please do contact us if you have any questions relating to buying, planting or maintaining your pleached trees.
How are pleached screens made?
Mature pleached trees or screen trees start life as a seedling or cutting, much like any other tree, being re-potted 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 for creating screens is selecting those with the straightest stems, healthy root stock and appropriately spreading and uniform crowns. Once tagged and lifted the trees are loaded onto trailers and sent to potting sheds for training.
Training the tree is usually performed best with a team of two or three skilled nurserymen and bamboo frames. 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