Trees: Shrub/hedge suggestions

Lima, OH(Zone 5a)

I am thinking of planting a line of shurbs or a hedge to create a barrier between our house and the busy state route on which our home is located. I have a young daughter in whom I have instilled the fear of the road and who doesn't play outside by herself, but this would be an added assurance. The strip is 30' in length, give or take.

I am looking for something that I can easily keep trimmed to a height of three feet or less. Does anyone have any experience with this type of endeavor that they would be willing to share? Is there anything beyond the traditionaly hedges that you often see in city lots, maybe something flowering? I'm open to any ideas.


How about Forsythia? I've seen it make great 3 foot hedges, it's fast growing, and is covered with beautiful yellow blooms in very early spring.

Lima, OH(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the suggestion Dave. I do like the look but didn't even think about it as a hedge.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Durham, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

heres some suggestions from :

Planting a hedge

Bare-root hedging plants

The thorny stems of hawthorn make it an ideal boundary hedge, and it produces fragrant white flowers in late spring, followed by berries. It is a deciduous shrub and forms a hedge 1.5-3m (5-10ft) in height. If grown as a formal hedge, it will need to be pruned twice a year, in summer and autumn. If grown as an informal hedge, simply remove some of the most vigorous shoots in winter.

Similar in appearance to beech, hornbeam is usually grown as a formal hedge and requires clipping once a year in mid to late summer to keep it tidy. It is deciduous and forms a hedge 1.5-6m (5-20ft) high.

With its small oval, green or golden leaves, privet creates a dense screen of formal hedging 1.5-3m (5-10ft) in height. The vigorous shoots of this evergreen shrub should be clipped twice during the growing season.

Planting a hedge

Choosing your hedge

You can use a wide variety of plants to create a hedge:

Dense evergreens for year-round cover.

Flowering shrubs for a seasonal display.

Deciduous plants to provide a changing backdrop as the year progresses. Beech is a popular choice for deciduous hedging, with its green summer cloak of leaves that fades to brown and gold in autumn.

Hedging plants can be bought in containers but beech, along with some others, may be bought bare rooted in January. Because the plants are relatively young, they establish quickly and are also cheaper - a factor to bear in mind if you're planting a large area.

As with all permanent living features, it is important to spend time preparing your site adequately beforehand. If you want your hedge to grow strong and remain healthy for years to come it is important to prepare the soil properly first.

Here's a couple of Q and A's that might help too:

Fast growing hedges
Q. I have been recommended Leyland cypress as a quick-growing hedge but I do not want it to become an overgrown nuisance. Can you suggest a good alternative?

A. Nigel Colborn in Gardeners' World magazine:
Lots, but there is nothing wrong with Leyland cypress, provided it is clipped without fail once a year every year. One of its parents, Cupressus macrocarpa is an excellent hedging plant, producing aromatic, vivid green foliage. Try the lime-green variety C. macrocarpa 'Goldcrest' as a lighter-coloured alternative.

Both these can be kept as neat and as small as you like, but then so can Leyland cypress. Lawson cypresses, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, come in a variety of hues, from deep blue-green C. lawsoniana 'Fletcheri' to bright gold C. lawsoniana 'Lanei' and are almost as pretty when trimmed into hedges as they are when left to develop their natural outlines. Be careful though never to cut back to brown wood since conifers do not regenerate from mature branches. Only trim the green shoots.

Laurels are quick to grow and a personal favourite of mine is Portugal laurel, Prunus lusitanica, since it has a pleasing blue-green cast to its leaves. During a hot year it will produce milky blossoms that are followed by black berries. Portugal laurel is fine for clipping and can be used for topiary, despite its relatively large leaves.

Sweet-smelling hedges
Q. I have a very small town garden which needs a hedge on one side. Can you suggest anything evergreen that will provide scent?

A. Nigel Colborn in Gardeners' World Magazine
It does not have to be a hedge. A trellis with climbing plants would also develop a barrier. To do this, try a mix of winter and summer jasmine or the evergreen star jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides. The semi-evergreen honeysuckle Lonicera japonica 'Halliana' is ideal for shady spots.

For a small but fragrant evergreen hedge, try some daphnes, especially Daphne laureola or Daphne odora. If your winters are not too harsh, consider myrtle as an aromatic alternative.

A favourite evergreen of mine is Osmanthus delavayi. In spring, this is covered with tiny sweet-smelling pure white flowers. Left untrained, it develops into a shrub with arching stems, but I've seen it clipped into shape, still blooming profusely.

Hope this helps you decide!


Lima, OH(Zone 5a)

Thanks for the info Lil! That is just what I was looking for. It will give me something to look over this winter so that I can decide what I really want.

Lincoln City, OR(Zone 9a)

I would be tempted by some of the larger hardy non fussy rose varities. I have some hedge roses that I got and they are about 3 feet tall and very disease resistant and bloom several times through the summer. Maybe the David Austins would work out too? I like some of the about suggestions too. Good luck. Lani

grand rapids, MI

Not sure if this is the right place to post about a hedge or not. I saw a thing from Dave about not cutting a hedge back too far to the old wood.

Well, maybe I'll be planting new next year, but this afternoon, I cut back a hedge that's been in place for 18 yrs. It had gotten too tall and I wanted it down level with the deck. This required a chainsaw and now there is nothing but thick (up to 2" thick). All of the green has been cut off.

Will this come back in the spring, or will I be replanting? If I replant, what would you suggest to cover the lower part of a deck (20" off the ground) but not grow up and hide the railing?


Lincoln City, OR(Zone 9a)

jimhandy, do you know what kind of plant this hedge is made of? There are lots of plants that can cover a deck of 20 inches and stay smaller or at least be easy to trim on a regular basis.

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

I have a question, I hope someone can help. I received some red maple seeds and don't know if I should plant outside or start inside and keep in over winter? Thanks, Denise

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

tomden, in my area the maple seeds just stay on the ground over the winter, and many of them sprout. I'd guess that if you put them outside under a thin covering of dirt, most would germinate in the spring.

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks Darius! Denise

I have Laurel starts and want them to grow as fast as possible because of neighbor's chicken coop and misc. junk. What fertilizer would be good for quick growth?
Thanks so much if you can help me.

Nashville, TN(Zone 6b)

Upright Yew (Taxus Hicksii). I've been very satisfied with my taxus hicksii hedge in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the US you see too many dense yew foundation plantings and hardly ever a hedge. It's true that the wonderful English yew tree, which the Brits use with such abandon in their superb hedges, suffers a long, slow death in much of the southeast US. Taxus Hicksii, however, works well throughout North America for hedges that you want to maintain at a height of four to ten feet. It makes the same fabulous deep-green backdrop for perennials that English yew makes. Thirty linear feet of rose bushes can get tiresome. But a yew hedge makes a superb backdrop for a variety of blooming plants.

In 1991 in Nashville, I put in a 50 foot hedge using 1 foot tall (and relatively cheap at $10 ea.) upright (hicksii) yews.

Editted addtion to my post, 7/12/2004. Now I've discovered I could have created my yew hedge for a fraction of its original cost if I had rooted cuttings from one nursery plant. When I sheared my mature hedge this spring, I stuck a dozen 8" stems into a vegetable bed where I could remember to water them often. To my surprize about half of them have rooted and have put out new growth. I have since found that there are plenty of good guidebooks for rooting soft-wood cuttings that would assure nearly 100% success, and I can vouch that yew Hicksii roots admirably even in Tennessee's rather harsh summer climate, so I'm thinking of backing up more of my ornamental beds with yew hedges since they make an excellent green backdrop for blooms in summer and serve as wind breaks in winter.

My established (10-year old) hedge from one-gallon nursery plants grows at a reasonable pace, so it never gets out of hand. I estimate that my Hicksii's have grown 7" in height and 4" inches (2" per side) in width per year. Don't be afraid to start with very small yews. (I scouted out the younger plants the nursery had on a back lot and got them to sell me those at one third the price of the two foot plants.) Or start with a few nursery plants and root the cuttings each year to fill in the hedge. The plants seem to grow more vigorously when small and then slow down as they reach a mature size.

In the American southeast, privet is a disastrous hedging plant because it grows maniacally throughout the long hot season -- forcing you to go out and sheer regularly precisely when it is most miserable out-of-doors. Yew, on the other hand, grows at a decent pace in spring and fall (when it's pleasant to be outside sheering it) and is happy to sit dormant throughout the long, long hot season.

The smaller the plants you, buy the cheaper your hedge, and my yews didn't seem to mind how I crowded them together (two foot centers) to get a dense hedge faster. Yet, I can "accidentally" forget to shear it for two seasons in a row without being overwhelmed with new growth. And if it ever does get too big, just lop it off at about two-thirds its ideal size, and yew magically fills in the missing bits with lovely, dense new growth.

I've never had any sort of pest or plague affect the yew hedge, and it weathers our occasional 8-week droughts well.

This message was edited Jul 12, 2004 8:22 PM

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

nmax, I'm experimenting w/candy tuft, have questions myself and am hoping they will turn out for exactly that same purpose as a hedge. Denise

Bensenville, IL(Zone 5a)

Does anyone know about siberian lavender? Didn't know where to post this being frequently asked is full, any help will surely be appreciated! Thanks, Denise

Bow, NH(Zone 5a)

I am also looking for some type of hedge,or really anything that could make a border. I want to have a border in my back yard to hide some of the back where I put raked leaves etc. The soil is not the greatest and it does get some sun,
I am probley talking alot of monies??? to tackle this.
We have rocky soil living here in the Granite State. It is sandy soil..
Any help would be appricated.. ..

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi. We have a border of daylilies between our yard and the street . We started with a lot of stella d'oros when they first came out and then were way marked down in sept - oct. Over the years we've added other varieties of daylilies. This fall I plan to add iris, gladiola ("hardy"?),mountain lilies, everything with the "sword like" or "grass like" foliage. My kids are way too old to run into the street, thank goodness.

(Zone 7b)

I've got butterfly bush in mixed colors as a hedge - blooms most of the summer, can be trimmed to any height.

Brockton, MA(Zone 6a)

About 25 years ago I found an evergreen seedling growing at my moms house, where the gutter downspout emptied.
Curious about it, I moved it to a corner of her yard. A few years later she asked me to take it out, she didn't like it.
It turned out to be a common ceder three. I planted it at my new house here, it's still here and it gives me babies every year.
I've taken these seedlings and lined them up as a living hedge on my property line to hide an unsightly yard next door. The oldest are maybe 15 years old and stand 8+ feet tall. They are somewhat prickly so unpleasant to go through.
Braz911, the original seedling came from NH, and my house lot is part of an old sand and gravel pit. Is that tough enough for you? They also feed the birds in winter with their blue seeds.
The only pic I have of it is this old one. Taken from my kitchen window.
Andy P

Thumbnail by Sarahskeeper
Oakhurst, CA(Zone 9a)

Hi, I'm new to DG and need some advice on planting Canadian hemlock as a privacy hedge and for deer control. I live in the Sierra mountains at about 2100' elevation. Our summers can be hot - the temperature reaches the high 90s regularly and can get up to 100 degrees for several days in a row. I have an area about 300' long, parts of which will be in direct sun during the summer months. I love the weeping branches and graceful look of Canadian hemlock but I don't want it to burn. I am willing to substitute another plant that has a similar effect when sheared. Oh yes, I would like something that is relatively fast growing; it has to be at least 10 feet. Has anyone out there had experience with hemlock as a hedge in direct summer sun? Thanks.

Virginia Beach, VA

I am new here and hope that you all can help me with numerous questions.

I am putting in some large boxwood spheres to "anchor" my "formalish" area. There is also to be a 18" hedge surrounding a grass and terraced area. I was initally considering continuing with smaller boxwood for that hedge, but have begun to consider doing it with boxleaf euyonomous. I thought it might be a bit less costly and would eliminate that yucky smell boxwood have. If, however, if I cannot keep the euyonomous "tight" at 18" T, I will happily spend the money for the boxwood. Maybe I am making too much of the boxwood aroma. I would welcome any input.

I have also purchase Osmanthus fragrans (Fragrant Tea Olive) and have read conflicting info. I hope I have bought a variety that I can keep tight and formal. How will these do in an area that gets morning shade and afternoon sun? What is the growth rate?

Lastly (for now), I was thinking of starting some Boston Ivy (Japanese Creeper) on my new brick garage. I have read conflicting things about ivy damaging brick. Comments? How about if I attach small blocks onto the brick and attach trellis onto the block on which the ivy can grow. Will I have solved the potential problem with the brick? If ivy really does cause bricks and mortar damage...over what period of time? This stuff is all over Boston and those old churches are still standing!!!

One more "lastly"...On a bank above a retaining wall...should I use skip laurel or otto luyken?

Thanks so much!


Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images