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Grow a Privacy Fence

Do you have something around your garden that you want to hide? It could be air conditioning units, garbage cans or even something in your neighbor's yard. Or perhaps you want to block the view into your garden to create privacy? My favorite solution for screening is an evergreen hedge. When you start with immature plants you have an economical alternative to hardscaped walls and fences.

There are many evergreen shrub options from which to choose. For my mid-south garden I like hollies. They fill in and make a nice dense barrier. Plus the berries add winter interest and attract birds. Here are a few others to consider.

5 Tall Evergreens

  1. 'Emerald Beauty' Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd') – 10 to 15 feet tall; 3 to 4 feet wide; zones 3 to 7; full sun; intermediate grower.
  2. 'Needlepoint' Holly (Ilex cornuta 'Needlepoint') – 10 feet tall; 12 feet wide; zones 7 – 9; full sun; intermediate grower.
  3. 'Hick's' Yew (Taxus x media 'Hicksii') – 10 to 12 feet tall; 3 to 4 feet wide; zones 4 to 7; full sun to partial shade; slow grower.
  4. 'Nellie R. Stevens' Holly (Ilex x 'Nellie R. Stevens') – 15 to 20 feet tall; 10 feet wide; zones 6 to 9; full sun to partial shade; fast grower.
  5. Japanese Cleyera (Ternstroemia gymnanthera) – 10 to 12 feet tall; 6 to 8 feet wide; zones 7 to 11; shade to partial shade; intermediate grower.

5 Mid-range Evergreens

  1. 'Wintergreen' Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana 'Wintergreen') – 4 to 6 feet tall; 2 to 4 feet wide; zones 5 to 9; full sun to partial shade; intermediate grower.
  2. Spreading Yew (Taxus x media 'Densiformis') – 3 to 5 feet tall; 4 to 6 feet wide; zones 4 to 8; partial shade; intermediate grower.
  3. 'Little Giant' Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Little Giant') – 4 feet tall; 4 feet wide; zones 3 to 8; full sun; slow grower.
  4. 'Green Luster' Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata 'Green Luster') – 3 to 4 feet tall; 4 to 5 feet wide; zones 6 to 9; full sun to partial shade; slow grower.
  5. Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria 'Nana') – 4 to 6 feet tall; 6 to 8 feet wide; zones 7 to 10; full sun to partial shade;

How to Plant a Hedge

First measure the space. How tall do you want the hedge and what length?

Look at shrubs that will mature to the desired height of the hedge. Narrow down your selection to those that will grow in your region and are suitable for the available sunlight and moisture in your yard. You can further refine the choices by maintenance. For instance, how often, if ever, do you want to prune the hedge? Arborvitaes don't require shearing, while hollies need a good haircut at least twice in a growing season.

Next determine the spacing. Look at the mature width of the shrubs you selected and the recommended spacing. Shrubs are spaced “on center,” which means from trunk to trunk rather than the outer edge of the branches. When determining the spacing consider how quickly the shrub grows and what size plant you plan to start with. You may want to position young, slow growing shrubs a little closer together for instant impact. Compare the spacing with the length of the space to figure out how many shrubs you need.

To create a straight line for planting place stakes at either end of the space and tie a string between them. You may need a few more stakes if you are installing a long hedge.

Measure where each shrub will go and mark the spot with a landscape flag or spray paint.

Dig the holes, plant and water. Read how to properly plant shrubs.

After the first growing season start shearing the shrubs to encourage lush growth. Do this in spring and again in mid-summer. Shear the top and sides beveling outward toward the bottom so that sunlight can reach the lower branches. Not all evergreens require pruning. In fact, some are better off without it. Read more about pruning evergreens.