Monday, 1 December 2014

Leylandii Blues!

These trees could almost be called a garden pest! Leylandii or Leyland Cypress is a fast growing tree and can reach 50 feet in 60 years. You will be familiar with Leylandii as the green/ yellowish evergreen trees, ubiquitously used to form hedges which can soon become unmanageable if not tamed by diligent gardeners. In some residential areas they have been banned because of their rapid growth, and many disputes have arisen between neighbours because of the nature of the trees to go out of control, block light and protrude into adjacent gardens.
Anyway, I have a back garden with a short Leylandii hedge spanning the gap between a side gate and driveway gate. The hedge was planted in the eighties, and in those days I trimmed it with a hand shears, which of course has limited ability to cut branches thicker than about 1/4 inch. Every year the trees put on new growth, becoming wider in the process as the shears could only trim back soft growth. By the time the trees had become 15 years old, they had reached a width of about 4 feet. I had bought a hedge trimmer by then, however I also discovered a serious disadvantage of many conifers, unlike deciduous trees, they can't be heavily trimmed back to old growth as they don't resprout. So the Leylandii have now reached  a width of about 7 feet and are practically hollow inside!
My plan is to hollow the trees out more on the inside. Yesterday I cut out as much top growth as possible which was overhanging the hollow interior of the trees. Dead branches were removed also. By opening up the inside, this lets more light in and my plan is to plant lots of holly and laurel which can grow in lower light conditions, inside this space. Eventually the holly and laurel will take over and emerge from the inside of the trees (Sort of like a gardening version of Alien!) at which point I will remove the host Leylandii.

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