The Q&A Archives: medium to fast growing evergreen shrubs for hedge

Question: I am looking to screen an 'eyesore' on my property. I want to create a hedge at least 5-7 ft tall that covers apprx 35feet length. I am looking for a moderate to fast-growing evergreen that is deer resistant. Where I am want to plant this is close to property line so I would like it to be more compact in nature however that is not an absolute must just a desire. I have looked at the Leyland Cypress however I am not sure if I can trim to my desired hedge like shape rather than its natural pyramidal form. It also seems like something I'm really going to have to keep on top of to maintain to my desired height. I actually prefer the Green Tower boxwood but I am not sure if deer resistant nor average growth rate/year. Also if you could suggest any type of holly that would meet the faster growing requirement I am open to that. The area where I am planting is full to parial sun. Any help or suggestions you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks.


Answer: Unfortunately I am not able to think of anything that meets all of your requirements.

Boxwood is evergreen and deer resistant but it is a relatively slow grower. That means it is slow to provide the coverage but requires much less maintenance to keep it at the desired size once it eventually gets there.this cultivar is relatively fast grower among boxwoods, but it is not "fast" if you are at all in a hurry.

In your zone (the coldest part of zone 6) Leyland may not do that well in harsh winters, especially if it is planted in an open, windy situation. It will also require steady pruning to keep it short enough as its mature size is over 20 feet tall; and, it is frequently damaged by deer so overall it is not something I would recommend.

If you could consider an informal hedge rather than a neatly clipped formal shape, you might consider the evergreen Pieris japonica and also Catawba rhododendrons. Once established they can grow about a foot or so a year. If you select a cultivar that matures near the height you want, you would not need to prune much if at all.

Although not an evergreen, you might also consider the old fashioned privet hedge; it holds its leaves late in the fall and leafs out early in the spring, takes shearing or can be pruned less formally, grows quickly and it is deer resistant.

Here is a list of deer resistant and non-resistant plants you may find helpful. It includes two hollies as resistant, but these are not cultivars that I have seen offered for sale. The commonly grown ones such as Nellie Stevens and the blue hollies are often damaged.

I should mention though that the lists are not fail-safe. In my garden the deer never touched the Catawba rhododendrons although they devoured azaleas, on this list they do not show the Catawbas as resistant. Some lists show many junipers as resistant, but in my garden they were all eaten to stubs. This list shows redbuds as devoured, but my deer never ate those.

The local deer population will have learned to eat certain plants, and will add to the list in times of hardship or severe browse pressure. IN my own sad experience, the only reliable defense was to erect a tall perimeter fence or enclose shrubs in their own individual fencing. Good luck with your planting!

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