The Q&A Archives: Living Fence

Question: Currently, photinas are planted along the fences in the backyard which border the neighbors on each side. However, for the last 2 years, they have not faired well. I would like to remove them and plant something else. What would you suggest?. The quality of the soil is poor. It is hard while some areas have clay. I like how the dwarf myrtles look, however, I am not sure if they would ever grow tall enough to cover the fence. I've read that they will grow from 5-8 ft. while others say it will only grow 1-3 ft. Which is it? If dwarf myrtle is not the way to go, please suggest another type of hedge (formal-like) that would be heat and poor soil tolerant.

Your suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Answer: Dwarf myrtle is a compact, tightly branched evergreen shrub, slow-growing to 2'-3' tall with equal width. They won't grow tall enough to cover your fence, so may not be the right choice for your landscape. Since you're going to replace your photinias, why not amend the soil with some organic matter prior to planting anything new? You can incorporate compost, leaf mold, or even peat moss to make a more hospitable bed for your screening shrubs. Some excellent choices for your area include Abelia, clumping bamboo, Callistemon (bottlebrush), Dodonaea viscosa (hop bush), Escallonia, Privet, Thuja (arborvitae) or Viburnum.

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