Design 101: Pleaching

(Read Previous Design 101 here)

Pleaching is the method of training multiple trees into a single horizontal plane, or one continuous line. It is often used to create allees or hedges. More frequently seen in European garden design, the training takes dedication to clipping and time to mature. Most often the branches are clipped to expose the trunks. 

A classic example of pleached trees. 
Image from Jinny Bloom
Hornbeams pleached across an allee of trees.

Image n.mccullough

 These are European Hornbeams pleached into an Allee.

Image n.mccullough
Trees that work well for pleaching include;  Hornbeams, Linden/Lime, and Pear. My personal favorite to use are Hornbeams, but I am also experimenting using Buckthorns in my back yard. When planting you should look to 3-4 feet spacing between each tree. 

Here you can see a more natural landscape with a line of pleached trees. 
Image from here.
Image n.mccullough
From this photo you can really see the structure of the branches creating the unified green wall. This very tall allee of pleached trees is at Arley Hall in England.
Image from here.

I could post 20 more photos of different gardens using pleached trees, but I am going to stop myself from going over board since I think you now understand the technique. Keep your eyes out, I think you will be noticing a lot more pleached trees.

5 thoughts on “Design 101: Pleaching

  1. Hi there, LOVE THIS IDEA! I live in Highlands Ranch, CO and have just recently finished building planting beds made of manufactured bricks. The beds are deep and about 10 feet long and 3 feet wide, and create and enclosed square space. I would love to use this idea but am not sure which tree to use. And which will survive the winter. I want to come up with a plan. Boxwood and the base. Trees to block the view of surrounding yards. Mostly, I want to create a intimate private space.

    • Mary,
      I love pleached trees and my go-to plant is the Upright European Hornbeam -Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’ It stays very tight and is very dense…. Awesome tree and is hardy to zone 4

  2. I’ve been rather obsessed with espalier and pleached trees as of late and the other day I though of a perfect place to do an alley of pleached trees. In the search for appropriate trees, I’ve found that in England where it is much more common, there are many nurseries that sell trees specifically for this purpose (pre-pleached, as it were), but have had no luck finding anything on this side of the pond. My rough estimate is that I will need 8 or 10 trees, so obviously I need to keep the cost down a bit and I was thinking a larger bare root tree might be the most economical (and easiest) option. Do you know of any sources I might consult to find that? I’m particularly interested in the hornbeams you recommend, Carpinus betulus ‘Frans Fontaine’. Thanks in advance. Love the blog, by the way.

    • Erin,

      Thank you so much for following! It is so easy to be obsessed when it looks so cool…. So I have had great success buying form Heritage Seedling, Inc. ( from Salem Oregon. The quality is amazing and the selection is extensive. They have a number of Carpinus to choose from in various sizes.

      From all my travels in England the Carpinus and Fagus were the two most common used the pleaching…. and from a lot of interacting with the gardeners most of the hedges were planted from young plants- be it bare root or saplings. The insta-hedge is a fairly recent thing in England (15-20 years).

      Thanks again

  3. I’ve been trying this myself, but I have serious doubts about whether I’m doing it right. Is there anyone in central Ohio who has experience with getting this to work?

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