The Q&A Archives: Privacy Hedge

Question: What can I plant as a fence? I am looking for something cheap, beautiful, can be with flowers, but has to be tall and keep privacy from the other houses. Thank you.

Answer: There are a number of evergreen or deciduous shrubs for you to consider:
Blackhaw viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) is similar to the shrub, Hawthorn in the way that it grows except it has no thorns. This deciduous shrub yields white flowers in May, which become an edible fruit at harvest time. Fall color is offered not only by these bluish-black berries but also by the leaves. Dark green foliage morphs to purple to reddish-bronze to a crimson in fall. It achieves a height of 12-15' and a spread 8-12'.

Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a flowering shrub, also known as althea, that can reach a height of 8'-10' with a spread of 4'-6'. These bushes profit from pruning. Blooms can be red, pink, blue, purple or white. Rose of sharon works well in shrub borders, because of its upright form. A row of these shrubs standing shoulder-to-shoulder forms a colorful privacy screen.

"Emerald" arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald') is a small tree or tall evergreen shrub well-suited for the "loose border" style of privacy screen discussed on Page 2. With its flat, long-lasting needles and dense growth-habit, just let this evergreen shrub grow into the tall privacy fence you need -- with little maintenance on your part. Emerald arborvitae has a narrow, upright form and attains a height of 15'-20', with a spread of 4'-6'.

Irish junipers (Juniperus communis 'Stricta') are a favorite evergreen shrub of mine for privacy screens. With a dense growth-habit and narrow, columnar form, just let them stand together in a colonnade to form a loose border, walling out unwanted sights, sounds and overly-curious neighbors. Irish juniper has a wonderful bluish-green color and grows to 10'-12' in height. These evergreen shrubs are so narrow in width as to resemble a column.

"Little Red" holly (Ilex x 'Little Red') has a dense growth-habit and compact nature (5' x 5') that make it useful for privacy screen hedges in areas where taller privacy screens are not desirable. These evergreen shrubs produce attractive red berries and has a moderate growth rate. Little Red holly can be grown in full sun or partial shade, and it likes well-drained soil with a pH that is acidic. Cold hardy to zone 6. As broadleaf evergreen shrubs, hollies make ideal privacy screens around pools -- no leaves or needles to clean up. Little Red holly responds well to pruning, meaning that you can sculpt a beautiful, formal hedge out of it.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your landscape.

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