THOUSANDS of residents in North Oxford have been told what trees they should plant and how they should keep their gardens in a bid to protect the area.

A leaflet detailing how people's windows, walls, railings and gardens should look has been distributed to around 3,000 people by the St Margaret's Area Society.

The group warned the traditional street aspect was 'under pressure' as front gardens were being modified for car parking, bin stores and cycle racks and houses being extended.

The advice also said it was 'courteous' to discuss ideas with neighbours before architects were engaged.

The leaflet's author Dr Tim King said: "The local amenity societies are concerned that the front gardens and house frontages may be changed in a way which harms the appearance of this famous suburb.

"The leaflet provides advice on planting, trees, walls, railings, windows and where to find planning information."

The renowned biologist added: "The North Oxford Victorian suburb is admired throughout the world - it's character is that of a garden city and it is in all our interests to keep it that way."

The suburb extends from St Giles' and Norham Garden to the south to Frenchay Road and Lathbury Road to the north and to the River Cherwell in the east and Oxford Canal in the west.

The helpful guide lists 'suitable species' of tree, which includes beech, lime, pine and oak and wall cover such as wisteria and honeysuckle.

It warned that bin and bicycle sheds should be kept behind the house or screened by a wooden store or planting if that wasn't possible.

Traditional sash windows must be retained and stonework remain unpainted.

The leaflet reflects many of the changes made to the North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area Appraisal - a document approved by Oxford City Council setting out a planning framework for the area.

New rules – named 'article four directions' – were introduced following a series of disputes between residents and some Oxford University colleges, over fears that the Victorian suburbs are being absorbed into campuses.

It means that planning permission would be needed for changes that normally wouldn't need the council's permission, such as windows, railings and boundary treatments.

When the measures were first drawn up last year, city councillor for the area James Fry said they would protect the area.

He said: "Article four directions in place in Osney and Jericho have already ensured control over replacement windows and doors, and over the installation of skylights.

"In North Oxford it would protect views from the street from further harm."