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By Telme8

Vale of Glamorgan, Wales Wal

I am having my laylandy trees topped, and chipped.We have very clay soil but in the shrubbery which is under this line of trees it seems much more workable, would it be good to add some of the chippings to this area. would it lower the pH level the test shows at the moment about 7- 7.5. with all the top growth removed I am hoping the shrubs will have a better chance to thrive. I am leaving the trunks and some growth as a wind shelter and going to try and grow some Montana type clematis to clime through the lower bear branches to try and fill in and beautify the beasts a bit. The trees have been there 20 years and grown too big and getting hollow underneath. I dare not remove them completely as it would expose my garden to the wind too much. Or any better suggestions appreciated.

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Putting fresh chippings down is not recommended- for one thing they rob the soil of nutrients (if there are any left by the trees!)

The RHS has a page on acidifying soil.

I thought of Portuguese laurel, which we grew in a similar position and kept clipped at about five feet and it did the job well. I looked up RHS Plant Finder and it was a bit depressing - came up with Lonicera pileata and Cherry laurel 'Otto Luyken'. There was a Buxus as well, but perhaps not a good buy because of the disease. But 7.7 isn't desperatedly alkaline so I'd also try planting small stuff in pockets of good compost if you can make any the roots, and see what happens.
Putting the same requirements in for edging plants nothing comes up for drought resistant plants. I hope somebody else can help!

If you planted a Montana you'd have to be careful to keep it out of the green part of the trees as it would kill off the branches it covered. Or could you erect some sort of support for one of the others? You'd need to improve the soil rather and keep adding mulch. There are some five foot ones now that would grow on an obelisk.

Even a winter mulch of grass cuttings is better than nothing and shredded autumn leaves too work well - you have to remember to add a general fertiliser in the spring though. This treatment alone has improved a poor bed enormously over a few years.

Or have you got room to widen the bed and plant a bit forther away from the trees?

22 Jan, 2015


NI have happy memories of living and working in VoG in the 1980s. I know what you're saying about the wind but there are plenty of other things, such as a mixed native hedge, that would provide a windbreak and also offer a variety of habitats for wildlife.
There already appears to be a low hedge behind the leylandii, so if you got rid of the leylandii your garden isn't completely exposed while new trees grow.
Take a look around and see what the local hedgerows consist of, get the leylandii removed, spend the summer improving the soil with lots of organic material and order bare root hedging for planting at next winter.

Presuming that you're getting proper tree people in to top the leylandii, why not ask them for a couple of suggestions - making it clear that it is just advice at the moment and that you haven't made up your mind.

ps I hope you got more than one quote for the work!

22 Jan, 2015


Thanks Steragram, for a very helpful reply. My shrubbery used to be wonderful in the earlier years but as the trees and I have aged so much and I am trying to rejuvenate against difficult odds! I have pruned back a lot of the deciduous shrubs in readiness for the work to begin. I got excited about the spaces if only Rhododendrons were suitable for our ground I am sure they would have filled in with that evergreen bush habit giving colour as well, but that I know is hopeless. I shall have to go to the less exotic and put perennials there for colour. Everything has struggled these last few years. Many thanks

22 Jan, 2015


I had two Leylandii which were regularly cut down by about a third. I finally decided to have them cut down to about 7 feet, which meant that they would not grow any more, and any green left on them (very little) died. I now have wisteria growing through them, and they look great. Whether they survive apparently depends on how much they are cut back. If the green is taken away, it won't regrow. I'm very glad I left the trunk and lower branches, though.

23 Jan, 2015


Thanks urbanite and melchisedec, I am pleased to hear your wisteria has been a success and that you do not regret cutting them down completely. That does give me encouragement. Next week the deed is to be done and I have been busy clearing a lot of ivy which had spread through from the hedge and it is starting to look a lot better so after the job is done and I apply plenty of feed I am now being a little more hopeful. As pleasure gardeners rather than professionals we are aware of some of the draw backs to these jobs we undertake, but it gives us more courage when you hear of someone who has done the deed and had success. Naturally every ones soil, areas and conditions do come into the equation!

24 Jan, 2015


Let us know what you decide int he end!

24 Jan, 2015

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