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This is my first question on this site, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

I am due to have photinia planted in my front garden by a local building developer who wishes to remove my established pine trees and replace then with photinia. His reasons are in order to make my boundry look more inviting (since it borders the housing development he wishes to build). I am not against this idea in theory. However, I have concerns.

My soil is heavy clay, which I know does not suit photinia. He assures me that he will line the holes with suitable soil for the photinia (which are already 4 metres tall), and will remove sufficient amounts of the old tree stumps to avoid honey fungus.

I asked that he could guarantee that the trees would survive (or that he would take appropriate action if they begin to die). He said he would only so so for the first year.

What concerns me is that one year doesn't sound very long. I am afraid that once the plant gets established then it will suffer from the clay base, and will perish. I worry that this may take more than a year for the roots to be affected, and for it to take some time for a plant of this size to perish as a result.

I have visions that two years later my boundary will be lined with dead trees (which I did not chose to have) and I will be left with the task and expense of replacing them all (long after the developer has sold his houses and left).

What do people think? Is one year enough time to judge whether a photinia of this size has good enough conditions to survive?

Thank you very much in advance.



Photinia Red Robin, which is probably what he's going to use) is a variety of P. fraseri - this prefers damper conditions, so if the soil is heavy and clay like, it shouldn't be a problem. I'd suggest the builder incorporates some well composted manure into the ground prior to planting though, to get the fertility up generally.
More of an issue might be the tree stumps - I'd ask him for a guarantee that he will have the stumps ground out down to a depth of 12 inches, with major roots also being extracted, and removed from site. Then the area should be dug over, the compost added and planting 2 weeks later. The other consideration is that Photinia can be a bit frost sensitive in really cold winters, particularly when young - you don't say where you are in the UK, but if you were somewhere in the North, I'm not sure I'd choose Photinia for this purpose. His guaranteeing the plants for one year seems reasonably adequate to me - only very good garden centres guarantee their plants for 2 years, mostly it'd be a year or not at all.

21 Sep, 2011


I've had a red robin on solid clay for many years and its fine but they need pruning to keep them under control, listen to Bamboo, she gives very good advice.

21 Sep, 2011


Hi Temple, Interesting quest. I found the following paragraph from the R.H.S. :
''Photinia grows in most soils, even clay as long as it has been improved by incorporating well-rotted compost or manure. Most species will tolerate either acid or alkaline conditions, but P. beauverdiana and P. villosa are not happy in a chalky soil, needing neutral to acid soil conditions.''
You need to check what variety are being planted and I would think well about what is about to happen. I have a red robin and our soil is clay, we are in SE London.
I am sure you will get jolly good advice on here from those who know.

21 Sep, 2011


Unless you want to have Photinia in your garden instead of your established pine trees I see no reason why you should agree to this. A year certainly isn't long enough to be sure the trees will survive.

21 Sep, 2011


My Red Robin has grown happily in heavy clay soil. It was planted 9 years ago and is now 12'to 14' tall and is one of my favourites. Listen to Bamboo as her advice is impeccable...

21 Sep, 2011


Blimey, careful folks, I'll have to have my doorways widened... thanks!
Temple, I note you have posted the same question on another site to which I belong (but under a different name). I haven't bothered to post the same, full answer over there as here, but it would be exactly the same if I did...

21 Sep, 2011


I think this is a rather cheeky request and there is no reason for you to agree if you don't really want to. Especially as he only guarantees the new planting for the first year.

21 Sep, 2011


The builder can really only be interested in his/her side of the trees. I'm not sure that I would trust the reassurances you have been given so far. Unless you really want rid of the pines, I'd be unwilling to go ahead, if it were me.

21 Sep, 2011


If it were me I know exactly what I would be saying to the property developer and it would not be polite!

21 Sep, 2011


Mmm....I would want a better hedge.

21 Sep, 2011


I don't think that builder has any right to take up your conifers just to make his building sight look better! Unless of course the conifers are over 6 ft. high, in which case he could ask to have them cut down, I think. I wouldn't want Photinia as a hedge as they tend to be a bit unruly. Escallonia would be a better idea if you're going to go along with the builder. I should have a word with him about his ideas! Annie

21 Sep, 2011


So far as I know it is only Leylandii that have to be 6 foot or less not pine trees...

22 Sep, 2011


Why not get a quote from a reputable landscaper to do the work with a guarantee and insist he pays.

22 Sep, 2011


But only if you actually want to get rid of your established pine trees.

23 Sep, 2011

How do I say thanks?

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