I bought a Magnolia grandiflora in a 100 Litre container. It needs to sit tightly next to a fence, with intent to block a neighbouring property. Now, here is the problem... The tree is 2m tall, but blocking the neighbour requires closer to 3m.

This is a slow growing tree, and I want my privacy sooner rather than later.

What problem would I have if I plant the tree just a tad high -- i.e. I put it into a hole in the ground, which is, say, only 1.5m deep? Does anything change if I put a 0.5m frame around it (it's next to a deck, so I don't want lots of additional dirt in the area).

------ Additional info ------

The Magnolia is a 'Kay Paris'. To add complication, I have clay soil, which I believe isn't ideal for this tree (happy to be corrected). I still want it very close to the fence, a bit less than a foot. I am happy to water it regularly, and I suspect it may even work despite a 'rain shadow', as clay tends to hold moisture. But at such short distance from fence, the rear branches will be squashed a bit tightly, at least for a year until I cut them. So... will this work?

  • 5
    The quotes around high made me think you had smoked one plant prior to working with your tree and had made a horrible mistake Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:42
  • 2
    @DCOPTimDowd I must be losing my marbles - the double meaning of 'high' never occurred to me any more than the double meaning of bamboo did, very funny...!
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:19

2 Answers 2


There are a couple of problems with your description of how you're going to plant this tree. First, no plant should be planted less than a foot (as a minimum) away from a fence or wall, so if you mean the rootball when you say 'sit tightly' next to a fence, as the topgrowth continues to expand, it will all lean forwards to get away from the fence behind it rather than spreading out all round and up, and the rootball itself may get too dry; up against a wall or fence is a dry place to be because of something known as 'rain shadow'.

Second, no, you should not plant it a little higher so that some of the rootball is sitting above soil level, and adding any kind of framework around it will not solve that issue. It should be planted at the same level (in terms of the trunk/top of soil) as it is now in its pot, or you risk root material drying out.

Magnolia like deep,rich, neutral to acid, fertile soil which does not frequently dry out - sitting it above soil level, up against a fence, is almost guaranteed to create conditions it does not like.

Have you considered a clumping bamboo such as a Fargesia variety (assuming you live somewhere that has a suitable climate), which would give you the height you need much more quickly, and which would cope much better with being closer to a fence?

Wherever you do plant it, ensure you keep it well watered - large, more mature plants often have difficulty settling in and growing on well once transferred to the ground.

  • 11
    Your suggestion seems a little self-serving. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:20
  • @HannoverFist I'm sorry, what do you mean,exactly? I'm struggling to see how my answer serves me... but perhaps you mean something different
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:23
  • 2
    haha, @Bamboo, I think Mr. Hannover Fist is making a little joke. Maybe about how, because of your name, you have a personal interest in propagating your ... cousins (?). Because of his own name, I think it is a lighthearted attempt at benign humor. But I will say, that, all due respect to yourself and your, ah, cousins: I would be a little wary of planting bamboo anywhere as it can be very invasive and very hard to eradicate if later on you or someone else wants to get rid of it. Warmly yours,
    – Lorel C.
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 17:35
  • 1
    @LorelC. - oh, right, I get it now, never made the connection -if that's what's meant, it is, indeed, extremely funny! As for the bamboo (plant, not me) that's why I suggested Fargesia, because its one of the few that's not invasive, but it may be that, where the person lives, bamboo isn't an option because of climate anyway. Or the questioner doesn't like bamboo, or its too shady, it was just a thought. See, I don't think of myself as 'bamboo', which is why I never made the connection, that and being half asleep today, but thanks for pointing it out
    – Bamboo
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 18:11

I would advise you not to plant the tree at all for now. Just repot it in a larger container, and place it on a 1m high stand. Next year, use 60cm stand, and even larger container. The following year, use just a couple of bricks as the stand. And the following year, plant the plant. That way, you will always have 3m screen. Also, this will be much smaller shock for the plant, over the years.

  • If you do this, do be careful with strong winds....
    – user53923
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 10:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.