Trafford Design Code


Boundaries and Edges

Protecting Existing Landscape

Drainage and SUDs


Gardens and Small Spaces

Management and Maintenance

Layout, parking and public realm

Landscape and Nature

Boundaries and Edges


Boundaries and Edges should be considered and designed from the outset.


The Importance of Boundaries and Edges – The role of boundaries and edges cannot be overstated. They are a principal ingredient of shaping a place at all scales and in all situations.


Different established neighbourhoods within the Borough will already have a well-defined hierarchy and structure of boundaries and edges. This can be seen at many different scales and in various situations:


  • Garden boundaries with good levels of privacy afforded to rear gardens and defensible space, at least, for front gardens.
  • Certain neighbourhoods can be categorised by private gardens with tall enclosures, others may employ a more open format, yet controls exist.
  • Unsightly facades benefit from screening by densely planted or solid boundaries.
  • Railings can provide security but are more open than walls or solid fences.
  • Trees and hedgerows can soften and enliven boundaries.
  • The use of Similar Boundary Treatments can characterise a place as can an appropriate mix.

The fabric, meshing and composition of the boundaries and edges are of equal importance to the buildings in determining the success of a place. The components of the boundaries and edges define space, screen, protect and can soften and embed all manner of development. Along with structural planting, boundaries and edges can deliver an intimate (human) scale and add vibrancy to even the most built-up and densely arranged urban spaces.


When designing boundaries and edges within an established neighbourhood, these should generally follow inherent patterns. This is not always at the expense of suitable (justified) innovation.

Features of boundaries and edges

  • Landscape used to hide parking
  • In new neighbourhoods or development zones, context and the relationship with adjacent land parcels and land uses is important.
  • The solution should aspire to deliver the best example of boundary treatment and not the basic solution.
  • The larger the development, the more fulsome and large scale the boundary treatments and edges should be.
  • In all instances, opportunities to introduce structural planting (trees and hedgerows) should be taken.


Boundaries and Edges

Golden Rules of Boundaries and Edges


In any situation, the context will determine the appropriate scale, proportion and type of preferred boundary solution.


Where planting trees and hedgerows:

  • Know the soils and therefore choose the correct tree and hedgerow
  • Ensure that ultimate size, form and appearance of the chosen tree and hedgerow is suitable for the location provided
  • Consider off-site constraints so that the tree and hedgerows can thrive and do not become a nuisance
  • Make sure that there is adequate drainage
  • Make sure there is a local water supply for irrigation
  • Allow for good quality care after planting (minimum 3 years)
  • Know where existing services are from the outset. Proposed services should respect tree and hedgerow
  • Establish the best conditions in all scenarios to give trees and hedgerows the best possible chance to thrive.

Establishing the composition and layout of boundaries and edges

In any new development, whether large or small in scale, it is imperative to design the boundary treatment to meet the needs of the place.


This can be broken down into firstly a functional requirement and then aesthetic considerations can be applied to the layout and form.

Functional considerations

Boundary treatments need to consider the following requirements:


  • Privacy – e.g. tall boundaries for private garden areas
  • Security/Safety – e.g. school playgrounds or railway lines
  • Ownership – e.g. public versus private ownership demarcation
  • Screening – e.g. to screen unsightly busy roads
  • Wildlife movement – e.g. hedgehog highways (small openings in bases of fences or walls)
  • Transition – e.g. urban to rural areas, through buffer planting

Aesthetic considerations

A successful scheme can only be achieved when, firstly, the functional considerations have been determined and then importantly, the appropriate aesthetic considerations should be applied to achieve the optimum solution.


The golden rules to be applied to the aesthetic choices:


  •  Respond to context – If a new development is of an infill type, it should respond positively to the best of the established boundary treatments.  For new communities, all boundary treatments should elevate the sense of place.
  • Design for the public domain – All proposed development will need to show how it has prioritised the outward facing relationship within the design of boundaries and edges rather than the inward facing. The public facing presentation is considered wholly more important than the private facing. Space should always be afforded to permit a high-quality, uniform and/or planted public-facing boundary to thrive.
  • Use “green” wherever possible – Hedges, trees, shrub planting and climbers have the ability to enhance stark or hard boundary solutions.
  • Consider management & maintenance responsibilities at the outset – Boundaries need maintaining. Practical considerations of maintenance must be considered at the design stage and responsibility.

If the functional considerations determine that inappropriate boundary solutions are required, it will be necessary to make design changes to the scheme.

Good practice solutions


  • Tall walls
  • Tall hedges
  • Tall fences or railings with hedges

Security (alone)

  • Mesh fencing
  • Railings

Hedge planting against fence or security railing


  • Railings
  • Low Hedges (sometimes mesh fencing)


Providing clarity between neighbour ownership or between public and private domains.


Where ownership needs demarcating, this can be achieved with physical boundaries or, where openness between ownership areas necessitates, through changes in materials at the edges.

Railings and planting within hard surface


When seeking shelter from visual intrusion, screening solutions should not detract from the public domain.

Planting Solutions – with scale responding to the need:

  • Tall belts of trees
  • Tall hedges
  • The middle layer of vegetation

Transition (between one land use or character to another)

These transition areas tend to have a largess given the scales involved. For example, successful visual transitions from rural to suburban areas tend to include areas of belt or layered planting.

Tall walls, fences and railings (over 1.5m)

  • Trees should be provided either in front of or behind the hard boundary treatment.
  • Hedges should always be included for tall fences and railings and should be visible from the public facing side of the boundary.

Low walls, fences and railings (below 1.5m)

  • Trees are always good in these situations and will be expected to be provided unless justified.
  • Planting of hedges or shrubs above/behind a wall, always enhances the boundary.

Shrub planting against wall

Establishing hedges

Hedges require similar growing conditions to trees. It is vitally important that the correct conditions are provided. This will require effective consideration of the following:


  •  Adequate Hedge Trench Size
  • Sufficient Soil Volume (in which to grow)
  • Soil type/quality
  • Positive drainage of hedge trenches is essential – to ensure water can get away and avoid killing the hedgerow
  • Positive Irrigation (guaranteed watering/feeding) is required for the first 3 years otherwise trees are likely to die
  • Safeguarding from animals, vehicles and/or vandalism will be required where necessary
  • All hedges should be planted from root ball stock or container grown, with a minimum pot size of 10 litres.

Hedge planting within hard surface

Maintenance and responsibilities

Hard Elements

Where part of a uniform boundary arrangement, the boundary treatments should be maintained as part of a wider communal management strategy. Details of how these are to be effectively maintained, safeguarded and how the maintenance will be funded for a minimum of 15 years should be provided at the outset.


All rear solid boundaries must retain sufficient openings to allow continued Hedgehog (and other small mammal and amphibian) migration between garden spaces.


Planted Elements


Any public facing hedgerow or tree planting will need to be covered by a private or communal management arrangement, clearly defined in the application submission, to ensure its continued success and contribution to the streetscene.

Successful maintenance will involve:

  • watering
  • weeding and mulching around the base
  • checking for security/staking
  • It may also involve safeguarding from livestock or rabbits

There is a duty of care, the responsibility for which needs to be made clear at the time of planting boundary hedges and trees, to ensure success. Planning Conditions will require maintenance and care and/or replacement planting for a minimum period of 15 years following initial planting. Responsibility for this should be established at the outset.

Boundaries and edges case studies

The Gables

by DK Architects for FP Homes The development strikes a balance between achieving a higher density of dwellings with a sense of openness in the

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Trumpington Meadows

Trumpington Meadows by Allies and Morrison for Barratt Homes The award winning project demonstrates the ability for volume housebuilders to create high quality design housing

Read More »

Permeable paving options