A large portion of my garden is bordered by the neighbours privet hedge- and I'd like to put an apple tree and various other plants here (utilising about 2 metres of hedge). Any way to counteract the effects of the hedge (which is a rather water and nutrient hogging variety, it seems)? Would digging down and installing a root barrier be any use? The hedge is only about 4ft high (kept trimmed by the neighbour), and although I don't want to hurt the hedge I also really need to use that space (its only a small garden! The hedge gets the only sunny bit!). How far away could I plant (the stuff that I planted 1metre away hasn't done very well at all- lavender and blackcurrant- but if I get much further away I'm running out of garden!)
I would go with a barrier. Privet roots can go a long way. I would trench down past the point where I see roots in the ground.....at least two or three feet, and put in something like metal, heavy plastic, etc.....whatever you can find cheap or free. Two thicknesses of carpet enclosing a couple of layers of heavy builder's plastic should work as well. Be sure it sticks up out of the mulch layer just a bit so you remember where it is and that runners don't slip out. If your neighbor ever lets the hedge bloom and produce berries you will have seedlings to pull out forever......
It is impossible to hurt a privet hedge. It is a banned weed here. You will need the barrier. I would dig a deep drench and put some old roofing sheets in (but be aware that paint may have lead).What sense does a 4 foot high hedge make? It gives no privacy. Maybe the next time your neighbour trims that hedge you say Oh my god that is a lot of work such a hedge!
I shall start digging then! I have some spare damp-proof membrane plastic I could use, and some old paving slabs that I might chuck in there as well.
The hedge is pathetically low- the house we own used to belong to family of the neighbours- so I guess they were very friendly! I wish he'd let it grow a bit higher, would stop his dog barking at me so much!