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Pleaching is a method of training trees to produce a narrow screen or hedge by tying in and interlacing flexible young shoots along a supporting framework. Use this technique to make walks, arbours, tunnels and arches.
A pleached hedge at RHS Garden Wisley.
Tilia (lime) is the most commonly used tree for pleached walks; usually the red-twigged lime (Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’). Ash, beech, chestnut, hornbeam and plane can also be pleached, as can apples and pears. These can often be obtained ready trained.
Laburnum and wisteria are favoured for pleached arbours and covered walks, especially tunnels, which show off the attractive flowers perfectly. Use wisteria grown from cuttings or raised by grafting, as it will flower more reliably and uniformly than seed-raised plants, and Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ is a better choice than seed-raised L. anagyroides.
Always select young, whippy plants that are more easily trained for any pleaching.
Plant in winter and during the early years also prune in the winter when the plants are leafless and dormant.
Train and tie new shoots in over the summer.
Once pleached trees have reached their full extent, prune in the summer, pruning to shape the tree growth and reduce its vigour.
If while pruning or pleaching, you notice that your plants are looking sickly, consider whether young plants are struggling to establish or whether an underlying disease such as honey fungus, phytophthora root rots or verticillium wilt are to blame.
Climbers and wall shrubs for shadeClimbers and wall shrubs for sunClimbers: using annualsHoneysuckle (Lonicera)PergolasScreening: plants forTrees: stakingTrees and shrubs: plantingWisteria
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