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Question: I need to replace a row of arborvitae that separated my back yard from a very close neighbor's house. They were approximately 40 years old and overgrown (30 feet tall). They came down in a storm this winter. I need a fast growing evergreen that will form a wall approximately 15 feet high. Should I replant arborvitae (and if so, what kind)? A local nursery suggested cypress. What is your opinion?

Answer: Arborvitae would be a possible choice, and there are narrow varieties which also stay shorter than 30 feet. In a sunny spot with good drainage, an upright juniper might also be a choice and several of these grow relatively quickly. Although it is not evergreen, plain old privet might be a faster growing alternative as might forsythia if the hedge does not need to be symmetrical or narrow. These both hold their leaves late in the fall and have dense twiggy structures. To be honest, 15 feet sounds a bit high and these two are usually kept somewhat shorter than that although 10 feet would certainly be possible. The most immediate effect of course would be a fence, perhaps softened by vines: English ivy would be an evergreen, something like fall blooming clematis or Virginia creeper might also work although they are deciduous. Finally, an elegant possibility might be large rhododendrons if your soil and exposure are suitable. For additional suggestions as to varieties which do well in your local area and specific planting conditions you might wish to consult with your County Extension (454-0900).

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