Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hedging Your Bets

A classmate of mine who works at a Nashville nursery said approximately 80% of the patrons of the nursery ask for hedging plants. People usually want to define borders, gain privacy or create a living fence. I love hedges myself and have a hedge on three of the four sides of my property. Home is a sanctuary, a place of peace and privacy; which for me is best defined by borders and hedges. So I thought I would post some information on hedging plants that work well here.

The first thing someone should consider prior to planting a hedge is if they want a formal or informal hedge. Formal hedges usually require pruning and would be all of one type of shrub. Formal hedges would be something like Buxus sempervirens, Common Boxwood. Common boxwood slowly grows to about 15 feet tall. Informal hedges would be mixed shrubs or shrubs that can be left to grow naturally with minimal fuss. An informal hedge would be a hedge of Hibiscus moscheutos, aka Perennial Rose of Sharon. I have seen many of these hedges in Clarksville and Woodlawn and they are quite attractive.

The second thing a homeowner should consider is if they want an evergreen hedge, deciduous or a a combination of both. Evergreen hedges would be something like Thuja occidentalis, aka Arborvitae. Arborvitae grow about 2-3 feet per year to a height of 10-15 feet. They do very well in my garden and make a good wildlife habitat. Deciduous hedges would be hedges that lose their leaves in the winter. Lonicera fragrantissima, aka Winter Honeysuckle would make a good deciduous hedge. Winter honeysuckle grow quickly to 8 feet or more. They bloom with fragrant flowers in the spring and then produce red berries the birds love, especially robins. A combination of evergreen and deciduous shrubs would make up the last type of hedge. This type of hedge is probably the easiest for home gardeners and leaves a lot of room to grow a multitude of shrubs.

A hedge can serve a few purposes, it can be a barrier, a screen or both. A barrier hedge would be a hedge of something like Berberis thunbergii, aka Japanese Barberry. Japanese barberry has sharp thorns and grows very densely to about 6 feet tall. It will prevent people or animals from passing through it if it is planted so that the plants touch one another. A screen can consist of something like Forsythia intermedia, aka Border Forsythia. A screen will not keep people and animals out but will hide a view. Border forsythia grow to about 10 feet tall and can make an attractive screen. A hedge that can be both a barrier and screen is something like Ilex cornuta, aka Chinese Holly. Chinese hollies grow to about 10 feet tall and can grow dense or open as desired. These hollies have leaves with spines that will prevent people and animals from crossing through.

As much as I love my arborvitae hedge, my favorite hedging plant is the Elaeagnus pungens,Elaeagnus umbella and Elaeagnus augustifolia, the silverberry is not invasive. It grows quickly in difficult conditions and tolerates wind very well. The silverberry is not for small properties or for small areas because it can grow to 15 feet high and will spread 10 feet or more. This shrub grows in sun or shade, is evergreen and has a very pretty leaf. The leaves are bluish green-gray, shiny on top and somewhat dull underneath. This time of year this shrub blooms with small insignificant flowers that have a huge fragrance. My entire one acre garden smells heavily of this shrub when it is in bloom as it is now. This shrub does grow in a rather willy nilly fashion putting out all kinds of shoots in wild directions, but the shoots can be handcut back and are a valued addition to flower arranging, as they last a long time when cut. I initially purchased my silverberry at Wal-Mart a few years ago. I tried many shrubs and found some were a hit or miss but this was definitely a HIT. When I decided to change my front border hedge from informal flowering shrubs to a solid evergreen shrub to block out street noise and provide privacy, I decided upon the silverberry. I called many nurseries but only found one locally which had enough on hand. That was The Garden Place on what is now known as Woodlawn Road here in Woodlawn. I bought the shrubs in two gallon pots about two feet high and planted them 10 feet on center. In only 18 months the shrubs have grown to about 4 feet high and and three feet wide. They will only grow faster as they get more established. Inside of these evergreens I planted all flowering shrubs off center. I am very pleased with the effect and the hedge has given me a large area with which to indulge my passion-plant collecting and gardening. aka Silverberry. Unlike the

in the garden....


  1. It was nice to finally meet you in person over the Weekend! Sorry we did not have too long to chat but we did get a lot in with only a few minutes didn’t we? We will get together again for a longer visit the next time I am in town. Thank you so much for the little gift you made me. It will be placed in a special spot in my yard and will be a reminder of your love of gardens!

    I am so glad you talked about this subject today Tina! Now I know what to plant between us and the non-yard tending neighbors. Silverberry! My problem in choosing something was shade as this is a really shady area for us. I wonder if the deer will eat it or not? They travel in that area of our yard and woods. We may try our luck at Silver berry if we can find any. I was thinking of Leyland Cypress but with the shade, I thought they would not grow fast enough for me. Then my second chose was to put in some invasive bamboo but again, I don’t know if the shade would allow it to grow as quickly as I would like it to grow. I need something to hide that ugly yard next door!

  2. Silverberry is perfect for the shade and any difficult spot, though it will take a little longer to fill out it will not languish and will eventually screen the view. Deer will not eat it. I have three leylands in the shade and they have grown fairly well. They have been there four seasons and are about 4 feet tall, starting at only 1.5-2 feet tall, so that is not too bad if you go that way.

    It was my pleasure meeting you and the Saint this weekend. I am so glad we were able to! Let me know when you come up in November. Talk with later-and I missed you while you were up here! I am glad you made it back safely!

  3. There was an article in the garden section of our Fridays paper that talked about how easily a Leyland Cypress can get diseased in our area. So I am glad we did not plant one.

  4. That was very timely. They can be troublesome. My daughter planted five on my recommendation at her home. Two died for no apparent reason. Try the silverberry. You will love the smell and the fact it is a little different.