I want to pleach some trees and am looking for help identifying someone with expertise in pleaching who could give me advice/assistance. Do you have any recommendations?
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners. We do not endorse retail or professional recommendations, so I will suggest you contact
Landscapeontario.com., or the City of Toronto, George Brown College (landscape design program) or Humber College (horticultural program)
You are to be admired for undertaking this project: such work done in Britain is expensive, and we do not see much of it here. I hope you find the help you will need.
If you have not already done so, you may find the following sites informative and inspirational.
And please read an earlier answer in Toronto Master Gardener ASK on hornbeam hedging entitled “Pleached evergreens possible in Toronto? ”
Pleached trees serve as dramatic living walls that are extremely effective in formal garden settings. However, not many trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, are amendable to being so continuously intensively pruned and having their branches braided together. Therefore the most popular trees for pleaching have strong and flexible branches: e.g. apple (Malus sylvestris), beech (Fagus), hornbeam (Carpinus), linden (Tilia), pear (Pyrus) and sycamore (Platanus occidentalis).
For most coniferous evergreen trees, their branching structure and properties are ill-suited to being braided together, and most do not like their branches touching each other (e.g. pine, spruce, and fir); moreover, they would also look rather awkward being trained into a flat shape. The ones suitable to pleaching are unfortunately not hardy in Toronto (USDA zone 5): e.g. holm oak (Quercus ilex, USDA zone 7), Leyland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii, USDA zone 6) and Photinia (Photinia fraseri, USDA zone 7).
Therefore I have two suggestions. If year-round privacy is your goal, perhaps you can consider beech, which keeps its leaves well into March. If you want a green screen in winter, then maybe you can try training an evergreen climber like wintercreeper (Euonymous fortunei, USDA zone 4) to form standards on a framework for a “pleached look”.