What is this? - Please help - Knowledgebase Question

Question by JohnBW
August 23, 2017
We a beautiful large hedge front of our house it provides excellent privacy and it is a perfect fence. We would like to have the same hedge on the two sides of the front garden.

Our neighbours tried to do the same but they have ended up with 5+ different species. All of them are similar yet visibly different (see the attached picture): We are keen to avoid the same mistake and would like to identify our existing hedge correctly.

Once I took a piece of the branch to a local nursery. They said it is not easy to identify them by the look. So they rubbed it and smelled it and told me it is Western red cedar (Thuja plicata). I am not 100% sure because as far as I know Western red cedar has seed cones. We never had that (at least not in the last two years since we moved here). What do you think?

I don’t have much gardening experience I rely on your valuable comments.

Please see the attached pictures.

Thumb of 2017-08-23/JohnBW/e53e03

Thumb of 2017-08-23/JohnBW/63bff5

Thumb of 2017-08-23/JohnBW/adf872

Thumb of 2017-08-23/JohnBW/562df1

North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Answer from tx_flower_child
August 23, 2017


You do have a beautiful hedge, whatever it is. Plus your pictures are very clear and helpful, unlike any of mine. So anyway, I understand your desire to have matching 'bookends'. You might, however, think carefully about doing that. IMHO, Mother Nature likes a little diversity. With a little research, or perhaps a suggestion from someone else who hops on this thread, you might find some complimentary plants/shrubs/trees.

If you think about a walk in a forest, not every tree will be the same. Another consideration is wildlife. Do you feed birds or want to attract them and maybe butterflies or what have you? They all have their favorite places to nest or just hang out.

One more thing to consider. Suppose your hedge is subject to a fatal virus. (not wishing that on you) You could lose everything in one fell swoop. For example, in my neighborhood many people grow Indian Hawthorns. This summer some type of 'disease' killed all of them. Now people are scrambling to replace their once lovely shrubs — at the worst time of the year, no less.

Of course this is your choice. Just throwing out some things to think about. Whatever you do, good luck and happy gardening.

Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Answer from plantladylin
August 23, 2017


My eyesight isn't the greatest but it reminds me of Thuja species; a couple in our database for comparison:

Eastern Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd')
Arborvitae (Thuja 'Green Giant')

Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Answer from kniphofia
August 24, 2017


Are you determined to have a conifer hedge? Why not try something a little different? My sister has a superb tapestry hedge made up of hawthorn, hornbeam, holly and rosa glauca. It looks beautiful and is much more wildlife friendly as well as providing privacy. Here in the UK we have so many IMO hideous Leylandii hedges which are deadly dull and provide no wildlife benefit at all.

springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
Answer from Frillylily
August 24, 2017


I am hesitant to plant a row of all the same thing. If one dies, you will be left with a hole to try to match up and then it will not be the same size as the others. I have trashy neighbors and a large yard and small budget. I planted golden vicary (would not do again, burns in full sun, but would use the regular green one), lilacs, burford holly, limelight hydrangea, burning bushes, and wigelias. This gives me alot of diversity-spring blooms, evergreen in the winter, summer blooms, and contrasting foliage colors, as well as great fall color. If something dies, I can fill it in with something similar without it looking out of place. I also have forsytia, vitex, and a dappled willow shrub. Yews, also grow rather large and are evergreen, they grow fairly quickly also. I have a row of boxwood in the front yard, and they have done well for me, but crossing my fingers that none of then die and leave a hole in my row smack in front of my house. I think that your neighbors row doesn't look nice because they are too much the same -it appears that they "should" have matched, but didn't.

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