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Think thin! Narrow space solutions

Think thin! Narrow space solutions

You have a narrow width planting bed but just cant find the right plant to use? It shouldn’t overhang the path, wetting you in bad weather as you walk under nor starting WW3 with your neighbour because it dropped leaves or shades their pool.

So what are you going to do?

The range of narrow conformation plants is pretty thin. In temperate climates you can use conifers- a whole range of conifers and deciduous trees to keep Sydney and Melbourne gardeners happy.

While these will grow in sub tropical climates, there is always the possibility of fungal attack in hot humid seasons and a resultant death in the family. 

For those who live north of Coffs harbour on the east coast of Australia, a great plant species for a narrow sites is Lilly Pilly. Depending on the species, they grow in height to between 3 and 5m tall and narrow enough to be clipped to the desired width.

What about Bamboo you say? While they do grow straight up there are associated issues that you have to carefully consider. The species must be clumping and not a running type. Running types send up shoots all along the roots and are difficult to control. Clumping types should be kept confined by concrete paths or root barriers. Bamboos are prone to leaf shedding so are classed as a messy plant. Check with your neighbours first before planting if you want to stay on their good side.

Alternatives to narrow conformation species are trees that would normally grow wider but you elect to prune hard any branches that extend beyond the space. It’s possible to keep your selected species just 300mm wide in a practice called ‘espalier’. Think flattened trees. You can do this with fruit trees, Olives, Camellias or Magnolias. Prune early, prune often! This also gives opportunity to plant a low understorey plant. Consider also removing lower branches and training branches horizontally.

You can plant close to the wall or fence provided that no services or structures will be affected down the track.

The last option for narrow spaces is the use of climbers on a framework. Select species based on compact habit, light tolerance, perfume or flowers. Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) works well. Frameworks can include simple horizontal or vertical wires fixed to the wall or fence or a galvanised mesh attached to spacers and screwed into the wall.

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