Columnar Trees- Natures Best Fence

Columnar Trees

They say fences make good neighbours…We all know what that means. However, once homeowners have their new fences up, they wish to cover them with plant material. Or the fence didn’t provide enough height to block out the neighbours windows and give them the privacy that they were looking for.

picture of narrow ornamental pear tree planted for privacy

Trees! More specifically, columnar trees are a perfect solution to this problem. They can grow narrow or columnar, fairly quick to grow and low maintenance.

Some plants that achieve this are Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus ‘Fastigiata’, ‘Lucas’ or ‘Frans Fountaine’), Pyramidal Oak (Quercus robur ‘Pyramidalis’), Parkland Pillar Birch (Betula platyphylla 'Jefpark'). Beech, Cedar, Columnar Spruce, Columnar Pine, Columnar Sweetgum.

picture of mature Hornbeams adding privacy by pool

In reality, all trees need space, whether down below where they can spread out or up above for their canopy. Heights given by growers can be affected if the site is dry, poorly lit, or planted too closely to other trees. When planting your trees, you want to make sure you do not plant too closely to the fence. Give yourself at the minimum 3 feet. Plant to the same depth the trees were planted when purchased. Were they container grown? Make sure you scarify the roots, loosen them up before planting.

picture of columnar spruce in wire basket

Were the trees that you purchased in burlap and a wire basket? Make sure to remove twine and lower burlap. Two thoughts on this: I was taught to leave balled and burlapped plants in the the burlap, removing excess and all cords and plant directly in the wire basket; others will tell you that you need to remove both the burlap and wire basket entirely. I've found that by doing the latter, you can unintentionally rip the roots and have the tree’s root ball fall apart. I think you put a lot less stress on the trees by leaving the burlap and wire intact.

For the size of hole, the rule of thumb is double the width, but plant at the same depth. This allows the roots to grow in the loosely packed soil around with having the tree sink during rains by having the loose soil underneath. By planting a tree too deeply, you can stunt it or eventually kill it.

Recap of Columnar trees:

- are a great way to soften a fence;

- can add height & privacy to fenced yards;

- remember light, soil and water can limit the ultimate size a trees;

- when planting, choose a wider hole, not a deeper hole;