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Planting a green screen in your garden
Garden Path

Planting a green screen in your garden

by Faye Peterson 3 min. 11.03.2023
Green borders like hedges, trees or bushes are not necessarily the high maintenance, slow growing headaches we have been led to believe
Photo credit: Shutterstock

When it comes to protecting your privacy, reducing noise and pollution you’ll find that a natural green screen acts as more than just a barrier in your garden. 

Contrary to popular belief, living borders like hedges, trees or bushes are not necessarily the high maintenance, slow growing headaches we have been led to believe. Before installing a sterile fence or wall check out our selection of quick to establish, easy care plants to edge your property and put some biodiversity back into your border.  

Ivy (Hedera)

Artificial ivy? No thank you. Take the plunge and plant a living panel or two of these creepers to form a space-saving green barrier around your property.  

For instant impact, call in the professionals. Pre-filled ivy rich frames or freestanding planters are becoming a popular choice in both urban spaces and small to medium sized gardens to provide immediate, year-round cover. 

Alternatively, do it yourself. Buy ‘plugs’ of young ivy plants pre-grown in modular trays to plant now at the base of your chosen frame or structure. From here, it will naturally latch on and grow upwards to establish a barrier around your border. Choose star climbers, like English Ivy (Hedera Helix) or the more colourful Paddy’s Pride (Hedera Colchica) to complete the job. 

Ivy requires little maintenance, benefiting solely from a light prune during the spring to remove any excess growth as needed. In return, this plant offers wildlife a stable habitat, food and shelter. 

Living willow (Salix)

Willow is a fun material to create imaginative garden structures, such as wigwams, walkways or natural walls.

It’s an adventurous alternative to the traditional hedge and, although maybe not the best project for the amateur gardener, with specialist help a willow screen or ‘fedge’ (a cross between a fence and a hedge) can be erected quickly.  

Now is the time to plant young ‘staves’, ‘whips’ or willow ‘rods’.  Make sure plants are between one and two years of age. Seek out specialist suppliers to advise you on the types of willow to use to get the best from your willow ‘fedge’ construction. 

Bear in mind that regular pruning and shaping may be required, as willow can grow up to 2 metres each year.  In the long run you will have a highly attractive, living 'fedge' - envied by neighbours, adored by wildlife and enjoyed by you.

Common Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) 

Cherry laurel, also known as Common or English Laurel, is an evergreen, leafy bush that produces delicate white flowers in the spring. A fast growing, evergreen, this easy-care shrub makes an ideal choice for the lazy gardener. 

Plant now and water thoroughly throughout the drier months to establish a hedge this year.  When grown to maturity, a light prune after flowering is usually all that is required to maintain shape and height.

Although attractive to pollinators and birds who feast on their sweet smelling flowers and mature fruits, this plant is toxic to both people and pets. 


Often seen looking lost in the corner of supermarket car parks or at the edge of communal planting areas, this winter flowering evergreen makes the perfect protective, informal barrier hedge. 

Growing to around 3 metres in height, their spiky leaves look similar to holly but, unlike their Christmas counterpart, many Mahonia flowers and fruit are edible - if somewhat bitter tasting. As such, they are best used in jams or preserves. However, revived interest in this species and cross-breeding programmes brings promise of new varieties with better tasting fruit. But, this remains to be seen.  

Mahonia will add a splash of colour to your garden, with many leaves turning a dramatic red or orange during the autumn months followed by bright yellow flowers in winter that give way to deep blue berries. 

With more than 70 species to choose from, picking your favourite should not be a problem. Still unsure? Opt for Mahonia Aquifolium, also known as Oregon Grape, a frequently seen edible variety suitable for most areas.  

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