Ask a Question forum→How narrow can a Manhattan Euonymus hedge be kept front to back?

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Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jun 14, 2021 10:23 AM CST
We're thinking of planting a Manhattan Euonymus hedge on the side of a 4 ft fence, where we'd like a hedge of about 5-6 ft. We'd plant them every 3 ft for a good hedge. How narrow can we keep it front to back? Our preference would be to keep it narrower so that it takes up less space in our backyard (it will save space for perennials we'd like to plant on our side of the hedge).

This is for Zone 7a. Most of the hedge will get about 6 hours direct sunlight morning to early afternoon, and about half of the hedge will get an additional 2-3 hours direct sunlight late afternoon.

Also can get get shrubs that are at least 3 ft to begin with, and roughly what do they cost?
[Last edited by TreeSong - Jul 26, 2021 11:09 AM (+)]
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Foothills of the Italian Alps
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ElPolloDiablo
Jun 14, 2021 12:01 PM CST
About 3ft with regular trimming.
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
-Charles Darwin-
Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jun 14, 2021 12:23 PM CST
Thank you. Are you certain it can't be kept narrower than 3 ft? I've seen one hedge made of it that was no more than 2 ft.
Name: Big Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Jun 14, 2021 12:43 PM CST
The problem with a 2' deep hedge is you have to deal with the heavier stems and woody core of the Euonymus. That narrow a depth would extremely limit leaf production and its concealment factor. Your screening value won't be complete. You'll end up with holes in the screen like Swiss cheese.
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Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
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NMoasis
Jun 14, 2021 12:50 PM CST
For a shrub that has a natural spread of about five feet, keeping it at two will be a challenge and require constant proper pruning and will likely result in a lot of bare branches over time. They'll need to be planted at least 2 1/2 feet from the fence for healthy growth and to prevent them from leaning away from it, because pruning back there will be difficult as they mature. In addition, planting them three feet apart will crowd them and encourage powdery mildew, which they are already susceptible to.

Do I sound like I'm discouraging you from this idea? In my experience, the number one most common home landscape mistake is the failure to consider the mature size and growth habits of shrubs and trees and planting them too close to structures and buildings. Planting any tree or shrub with the idea that you'll forever keep it pruned to fit a too-small space is a recipe for disappointment and hassle. Consider trellised vines, small canopy trees or a shrubs with narrower more upright habits.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
[Last edited by NMoasis - Jun 14, 2021 12:51 PM (+)]
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Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jun 14, 2021 4:30 PM CST
Thanks BigBill and NMoasis. You both live in two great areas where we have family and friends and we share a lot of your interests - wildlife, bees, birds, cats, salvia, echinacea and herbs - we feed and even built an insulated winter shelter for the neighborhood cats, which are neutered and very friendly. Also planted Cat Mint for them. And ElPolloDiablo, the Foothills of the Italian Alps is a favorite region too.

NMoasis, you make great points and hit on a decision we're struggling with. We want an evergreen hedge, but we want one that's not too wide and not too tall (one we can keep to 6 to 7ft max). So far we have 3 options that could work for evergreen hedges, which I'll list with pros and cons:

1) Emerald (Smaragd) Arbor Vitae - we'd start with 5 ft tall shrubs, planted at 3 ft apart, which takes about 4-5 years to form a tighter hedge. We have 5 ft Emerald AV's planted in another area. These can reach 10 to a max of 15 ft at maturity, but commonly 10-12 ft and max 4-5 feet wide. I'm afraid these would be difficult to keep to 6 ft, or to prune for front-to-back width, because of the branch structure.
2) Leland Cypress - starting with 4-5 ft trees, planted at about 3 ft apart, these can be planted to form a dense formal hedge. I've seen a nice one that's kept to 7 ft high and about 2.5-3 ft wide. While Lelands can grow into large trees, they apparently can easily be kept to 7 ft if kept pruned. (Lelands tend to not form deep roots, which is why in my opinion they're not a great tall tree, as they are known to frequently tip over in strong windstorms).
3) Manhattan Euonymus - one gardener suggested planting at 3 ft intervals for a tight hedge. If we go with Manhattan Euonymus, what spacing do you recommend?

Which option do you each prefer and why? Or do you have any other suggestions?
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
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NMoasis
Jun 14, 2021 7:06 PM CST
Tree song, any chance you can post photos of the area? Which way would the hedge face?
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jun 15, 2021 9:25 AM CST
Sure, will post a photo shortly
Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
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JBarstool
Jun 15, 2021 10:16 AM CST
Hmmm. My first thought was to consider a yew hedge, which can be kept to 2' wide and is tolerant of all kinds of pruning... If it will tolerate your climate.
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Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jun 15, 2021 3:46 PM CST
JBarstool, thank you for the suggestion. About how fast does a Yew hedge grow in good sun (2/3 - 3/4 per day)? What type of Yew do you suggest?

The advantage to the Manhattan Euonymous is that it grows fast. At least 1.5 ft per year from the second year of growth on. It's also one of the hedges that does best with shearing.
Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
A Darwinian gardener
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JBarstool
Jun 15, 2021 5:22 PM CST
Yew is not a fast growing hedge, sorry. But they are dense and - to my eye anyway - far more attractive than something like Leylandii. And you could sculpt it into poodle shapes should you feel so inclined.
I find myself most amusing.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
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NMoasis
Jun 15, 2021 7:12 PM CST
Does Pittosporum do well in your area? I saw on one of your other posts that you're covering a chain link fence; that info helps, because of the air circulation issue and also because it better explains your desire for rapid growth. Can the hedge grow through it?
I might not be the best judge of this, because I really do have a bias against planting something that needs constant pruning. I've been trying to think of an alternative, like an evergreen vine like one of the jasmines, but for height it would require a trellis attached to the fence.
I wonder if @ViburnumValley has ideas, he's a tree & shrub pro.

For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
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ViburnumValley
Jun 15, 2021 9:13 PM CST
NMoasis damns me with faint praise...

I sense a contradiction in the request and requirements from TreeSong. The ultimate finished product needs to be no taller than "x" and no wider than "y" - yet there is a demand for a fast growing plant! Those two components will constantly battle, and create permanent work for the gardener to maintain a static situation.

Rather, I would suggest investing in a plant that has more restrained habits - especially width, since you have a very sensible wish to have ground space for additional plants. The height issue should be cast aside, since you plant to prune it to a perceived set height anyway. There are many selections of narrow plants, and it is easy to do online searches or survey opinions here.

The first plants that came to mind for me were choices like Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' - a very narrow Japanese Holly selection. It is made for zone 7 New York. Another is Ilex crenata 'Jersey Pinnacle'. There may be more of these Japanese Holly selections of which I'm not aware.

Another group of plants not yet mentioned are the Boxwood clan - Buxus sp. Not fast growing, but there are narrow selections of this group as well, so maintaining the height you like will be the only effort required.

Finally, there is a really narrow and dense conifer related to the Emerald Arborvitae with which you are familiar - Thuja occidentalis 'DeGroot's Spire'. It is far narrower than Emerald, so again, height management will be your only obligation.

These are all generally available selections.
John
Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
A Darwinian gardener
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JBarstool
Jun 16, 2021 5:41 AM CST
ViburnumValley said:NMoasis damns me with faint praise...

I sense a contradiction in the request and requirements from TreeSong. The ultimate finished product needs to be no taller than "x" and no wider than "y" - yet there is a demand for a fast growing plant! Those two components will constantly battle, and create permanent work for the gardener to maintain a static situation.

Rather, I would suggest investing in a plant that has more restrained habits - especially width, since you have a very sensible wish to have ground space for additional plants. The height issue should be cast aside, since you plant to prune it to a perceived set height anyway. There are many selections of narrow plants, and it is easy to do online searches or survey opinions here.

The first plants that came to mind for me were choices like Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil' - a very narrow Japanese Holly selection. It is made for zone 7 New York. Another is Ilex crenata 'Jersey Pinnacle'. There may be more of these Japanese Holly selections of which I'm not aware.

Another group of plants not yet mentioned are the Boxwood clan - Buxus sp. Not fast growing, but there are narrow selections of this group as well, so maintaining the height you like will be the only effort required.



The JH's would be nice choices!
I am loathe to recommend boxwood - I am sure blight will be spreading soon. Always an optimist.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Jun 16, 2021 11:49 AM CST
I had a long row of Manhattan. I no longer have. It is a bear when mature, got so tired of the pruning. But I do have a neighbor who has kept it as a hedge all around his front yard. Four feet tall, two feet wide, sheared all over. I can only guess that very dedicated pruning when it was young, then regular shearing, has somehow tamed it. It's been like that at least 30 years. Key is being dedicated to the pruning. If you get tired and lazy it will eat you alive.

How about good old crappy cheap Ligustrum?

I dont think Pittosporum is used this far north.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
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ViburnumValley
Jun 18, 2021 12:55 PM CST
Ack! Not Privet! Die die die die.

At least the shrubby evergreen Euonymus sp. don't spread themselves around - at least not around here.

@sallyg: any chance your neighbor's hedge might be Euonymus japonicus? That might be a lot easier to maintain smaller - and I'm not besmirching your ID skills. Just that heavily sheared plants can mask identity when quite similar to cousins.

My parents' house still hosts some massive Manhattans. Mowed around them in my youth, and most of them persist to this day as behemoth mounds. Very cold winters froze them back, to be recycled from the undamaged roots. A couple severe droughts erased some that were on too shallow soils. Only pruning I recall is deadwood or an occasional vigorous branch getting out of line, but never sheared. I thought they were handsome enough plants with shiny dark green leaves and noticeable when in flower. Occasional scale could disfigure parts, but these were overall healthy plants for the long term.

I would say it would be hard to find these in retail locally, due to size and lack of "wow" factor.
John
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
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sallyg
Jun 18, 2021 1:07 PM CST
ViburnumValley said:

@sallyg: any chance your neighbor's hedge might be Euonymus japonicus? That might be a lot easier to maintain smaller - and I'm not besmirching your ID skills. Just that heavily sheared plants can mask identity when quite similar to cousins.



Hmmmm... I thought I has it but.. thing is, I understood my hedge to be offspring of that hedge as the original owners were friends.

Speaking of finding for sale.. after removing all my Manhattan, I put in just five Ilex glabra, hoping they will be easier to keep tame, somewhat upright, small leafed, evergreen, and some berries if I understood the cultivars correctly...
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
Region: United States of America Region: Kentucky Farmer Cat Lover Birds Bee Lover
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ViburnumValley
Jun 18, 2021 1:47 PM CST
Well, we will want full progress reports on that! And I can speak officiously (!) as past officer in the Holly Society of America...
John
Zone 7a, NY
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TreeSong
Jul 26, 2021 11:07 AM CST
Another shrub we're considering is Sky Pencil Japanese Holly. https://www.monrovia.com/sky-p...

Grows to 8 ft tall by 2 ft wide and can even be trimmed to 1 ft depth and almost any height you like. They are supposed to be one of the best choices for a thin evergreen hedge. Anyone have any experience with them or know how these do in zone 7A?

Are they best planted in summer or fall? I typically plant shrubs in fall or early spring, but perhaps this is one that prefers summer planting.

Also, any idea how much 4-5 ft tall plants sell for?

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