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Pleached Trees - Species and Usage

Pleached trees are one of our absolute favourite methods of introducing structure and interest to the garden, traditionally used to create narrow screens along pathways, or as divisions within a formal garden.

They can best be described as producing a ‘hedge on legs’ effect, which is achieved by training the whippy twigs of trees along horizontal wires, and can now be acquired ‘ready pleached’ in the case of mature trees, approximately 3m high.

pleached public

Formally pleached trees in a public garden
©Pam Fray, 2009

This is made up of a 1.2-1.8m stem, with the frame usually 1.2m wide and 1m deep. Our ready-pleached trees will have been trained onto a bamboo frame, which can be removed after planting. This crown supports the frame during transport.

It’s a striking effect, and perfectly applied in contemporary urban gardens, where they’re commonly used to provide privacy and screening above a fence line, with a formally crisp appearance. In more rural locations they’re effective at creating elegant divisions and walkways.

Traditionally, two particular species have been used for pleaching. Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and Limes (Tilia platyphyllos). Pleaching naturally requires attentive pruning to retain form and aesthetics, with limes being particularly prunable. Hornbeam, on the other hand, retains some leaves when pruned, allowing for retention of cover later in the season.

Other varieties are now beginning to gain popularity as pleached features, however. Ornamental pears (Pyrus Chanticleer) among them. With cream spring blossoms and long lasting autumn colour it’s a magnificent source of interest throughout the year.

pleached bamboo

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) trained onto a bamboo frame

For those of you seeking evergreen interest, Holly (Ilex) is now commonly seen pleached, standing out with glossy winter berries. Photinia Red Robin produces bright red new shoots, providing a stark contrast to the greens and browns prevalent in most gardens.


Pleached trees constitute a fantastic design element, and if you’re interested in introducing a little more formal structure to the garden any of the above would be an excellent place to start. Don’t hesitate to contact us, however, if you’d like to set up an order, make an enquiry, or are just seeking a little extra planting advice.

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