I need screening but my garden is south-facing and I don’t want to block out the light.
In this situation it is important to carefully consider how much and for what months of the year the screening is required. For summer garden screening, the light airy canopy of a Birch or Gleditsia will provide a ‘net curtain’ feeling of seclusion whilst still bathing the garden in dappled light. Where year round privacy is desired, you may be happiest settling for a happy medium. Try a mixed deciduous and evergreen screen as described in Problem #1, taking care on the selection of evergreens to avoid choosing highly vigourous varieties.
An alternative solution is to choose densely branching deciduous trees which can be pollarded to control size. Varieties which lend themselves well to this use are Salix alba ‘Britzensis’, Acer platanoides ‘Globosum’, or ‘Acer platanoides ‘Drumondii’. With increasing maturity and regular pollarding, the crowns will develop dense, compact heads which provide an attractive architectural feature for the garden in all seasons.
Deciduous trees which hold their leaves late into autumn can also provide a delightful solution. Pyrus cal. ‘Chanticleer’ or Parrotia persica provide an exceptional autumn show and often retain their gay apparel well into December, dropping them just in time to let the light stream in during those winter months when the sun is at its lowest.
If the budget will accomodate, panel-pleached trees can certainly offer very elegant screening up to about 3.5 meters. Evergreen varieties now becoming available in this form include Photinia x fraserii ‘Red Robin’, Quercus ilex, and Prunus laur. 'Novita' (Pleached). Hornbeam and beech (Fagus sylvatica (Pleached), Fagus syl. Purpurea Group (Pleached) ) are also stunning options to consider. Although technically deciduous, both tend to retain their coppery dry leaves through the winter with striking effect. The winter screening they provide increases with maturity as the branching structure becomes more dense. Other fantastic deciduous pleaching options are Pyrus cal. ‘Chanticleer’, which offers a stunning spring blossom and fiery autumn colour right through to Christmas, and Tilia x euro. ‘Pallida’, which provides limited winter screening but compensates with its particularly lush, waterfall-effect foliage in summer.