full sun mixed hedge

xillJune 26, 2011

well i'm starting to gather all of the supplies and plants i need for starting my privacy hedge this fall and would love some advice from you guys. i have roughly 170' of fenceline that separates one side of my backyard from a sidewalk. my fence is a 6ft cedar fence (not a concrete block wall), and i have 4.5' of ground space between the outside of my fence and the barely-used sidewalk. this area faces W/SW and will get full sun from 11am-dusk during summers. i've decided on a fast-growing informal mixed hedge. the plants i've chosen are:

Green Hopbush

Yellow Bells

Red Bird of Paradise

Barbara Karst Bougainvillea (only 3 or 4 for more color interest)

i'm also considering using a groundcover as a "live mulch" and to keep down weeds while my hedges fill in. ideally this ground cover would extend beyond the fenceline to also border around my front yard so i dont have to maintain grass around my picket fence. the best groundcover choice would be about 1' high, very dense, fast growing, heat tolerant, and can survive on the same watering schedule as the hedge plants. i'm leaning towards creeping thyme or trailing rosemary but a groundcovering vine would work if it stayed off the fences and hedges, but that seems unlikely.

as for the hedge plants, i'm trying to calculate how many of what plants i need. i'm thinking a 4' spacing between plants would make a faster hedge, but perhaps this is too close for future hedge health? i'd like each plant to grow to at least the height of the fence (6'). but that brings me to my next question, how do i trim the plants off of the fence if i can't get between them? i dont really want to leave access gaps if i don't have to. how is this normally accomplished with large hedgerows?

any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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For your groundcover, you might look into wedelia trilobata. It's a gorgeous deep green, has pretty yellow daisy like flowers, and grows vigorously. We have it in our front yard, on the same watering schedule as our trees and it is thriving. It can take both sun and shade; it's a little leggier in the shade than in the sun, but it's a great, easy care plant.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:27PM
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hmm, that might be the perfect ground cover for the front yard border! i can picture it with a picket fence running right down the middle. lots of people say its very invasive but theyre all in very moist environments, it doesnt seem to be too difficult in the desert. cant be worse than bermuda grass and i'm holding my own in that battle lol. thanks for the suggestion, i think i'll use it :)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 4:22PM
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I haven't had any problems at all with it being invasive. As the branches grow into areas where we don't want them, I just whack them off (good old fashioned hedge clippers work great) and it doesn't seem to mind a bit. If I've been lazy, and the branches have rooted before I get to them, they're very easy to pull up, and it doesn't seem to regrow from any bits of root that may have been left behind.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 10:17PM
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well then that's perfect for what i need. and you're right, the foliage is gorgeous!. did you start yours from seed or cuttings? how fast does it grow in your experience and how far apart did you plant yours to get it to fill in as nicely as you did?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 1:56AM
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We purchased rooted cuttings from A&P. This photo shows the original plant spacing, about 3' apart each (my husband was convinced it would never grow in, and kept asking me if I was sure this was right, lol). It took about 8 months to fill in, and we had some empty spots where it was a little slower going. I just snipped off branches and poked them in the ground where the bare spots were; about 1 in 5 rooted and grew from the cuttings.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 11:16AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hah! I was thinking weidelia too. Let us know if that's the lucky winner.

I think 4 feet is fine for what you're doing. I like everything about your plant selection although I'd wonder just a bit about red BOPS only because they're winter-deciduous so will leave gaps in the hedge for part of the year, and because they might get too much shade by the other plants while they're dormant. Just something to hink about. I do love how you're going with several different types of plants AND several colors of some of them when possible. Neat! If you think about replacing the red BOPs you could do Tecoma 'Orange Jubilee' which would go nicely with the yellow bells. Of course, doing it exactly as you are sounds very very nice too.

Like a lot of hedges in a lot of climates, my current hedge is becoming a mixed hedge due to self-sown plants, invaders, and all sorts of things, that I'm fully encouraging. It started as a pure hopseed hedge but then some self-sown oleanders popped up and I let them (some have had amazing, huge, double bright pink scented blooms, and others in various forms), plus a small tecoma too. I say if it's providing cover and color then I'm leaving it.

Please share before, during, after, and much-after pics!
Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 3:21PM
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you know i completely forgot that the red BOP was deciduous. that sucks :( i guess i'll just have to have one or two in the backyard for my own visual enjoyment instead. the orange jubilee does sound like a good replacement. it would be nice to have another foliage type though just to mix it up a little more, but i like the idea of orange, yellow, and fuscia blooms. cape honeysuckle might be something as well but it doesnt seem to like afternoon sun near as much as afternoon shade around here. i have been considering mixing 4 small trees along the fenceline though. something i can keep trimmed to around 15ft that would provide dappled shade and a little more privacy above the fence. i was thinking pink dawn chitalpa, vitex, or heavily-manicured mesquite (for interesting branching and to keep the size down like they do in parking lots). what do you think?

below is a bird's eye photo of my house so you can see the fenceline i'm trying to cover and the direction it faces. it's an old photo from before i owned the property though. seems like it's about 5 years old or so:

here's the bougainvillea in my backyard and the baby yellow bells i planted last week (they were begging to be released from their containers lol). i love the foliage mix and the electric colors when in direct sun, so i'm hoping to mimic that in the hedge so the neighborhood can enjoy them too.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 2:29PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Wow, nice big garden. I'm green with envy! Let us know what you do and how it works out. I love the red bougies with the yellow of the yellow bells. Orange Jubilee would be fun too (though as you said, similar foliage). I agree that Cape Honeysuckle might not love life there. Leucophyllum might be okay, and would have more gray foliage, though it's not quite as tall growing as your other candidates.

The tree ideas are good too, although most of the ones you mention will often go deciduous in winter, when you may want visual privacy the most. Texas ebony is in that same size range and is evergreen, so it could be a contender too. Trees might be a bit crowded there, or might push up the sidewalk, but they're worth considering too.

Keep us posted and good luck!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:30PM
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well i ordered the orange jubilee seeds and hopbush seeds today. they should be here in a few days so i can get them started in the mini greenhouses. hopefully i can get them up to 1g plants by xmas so i can get them in the ground and better established before next summer hits. germination is suppose to be about 10 weeks from what i've read, but so are yellow bells and i have those little boogers sprouting from peat moss beds in less than 15 days. growing from seed is so much more gratifying than buying plants. i havent found a good source for wedelia seeds yet though, but i'm still looking. im thinking i need ~30 strong plants to border the front yard. if anyone knows of a place to get these seeds or rooted cuttings, please let me know. if all else fails i'll just have my local nursery order them but at $5 per 1g it might start nibbling at my landscaping budget for this fall.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 4:08PM
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I don't have rooted cuttings of wedelia, but I'd be glad to share whatever cuttings you'd like to harvest from our "lawn" and root yourself. I'll be away until the 18th, but if you're interested, and you don't mind traveling to Tempe, let me know and we can hook up when I get back.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:51AM
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thats very awesome of you plstqd and i'd definately take you up on the offer if i lived a bit closer but i dont even live in the phoenix area, i'm in the imperial valley (about half way between yuma and san diego). i think i found a place online that sells wedelia seeds though, so not all is lost. i'm still researching to find out the germination rate though and how difficult they are to grow from seed. unfortunately theres not alot of info out there about that...

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 3:40PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Your plan sounds really good! A thought on the wedelia -- you could buy a couple of plants, then take cuttings to root for the rest of the plants you want. I've had a lot of success going this route.

Regarding trees, I think you'll have a hard time keep a mesquite trimmed down small enough with the amount of ambient water you'll have in the soil. I think one of the reasons the mesquites in shopping center parking lots are so small is because they're surrounded by asphalt, reducing the overall soil moisture. Purple plum and cascalote are two other trees that stay small.

Hope you'll keep us posted with pictures. I like you're idea of having bright colors -- color is so refreshing with the intense sun of our summers!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:15PM
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well your idea of buying a few and rooting my own cuttings is a good one. i didnt think of that as an option but i'm looking into it now, thanks. as far as the trees i think i'm just going to stick to the large hedges. i like the look of street trees but id probably enjoy them more on the inside of my fence

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Well on another post here I was asking for advice regarding a section of my fence I'd like to cover with a vine. It would be west-facing as well. It got me thinking... What if I use bower vine instead of all these hedges on the outside of my fence? Bower vine would provide the privacy I want since its evergreen, but it doesn't normally get heavy enough to pull my fence down over time like lady banks would. I would imagine maintenance would be easier and faster as well. But the big one for me would be on the inside of the fence where I get to see the flowers draping over the top and hanging above border gardens. Since theres 3 varieties of bower vines I can still mix it up a bit too. So now I'm thinking mostly bower vines separated with a few bougainvillea and with some short shrubs to fill in space in front of the vines. What do you guys think? Would this be a bad idea? Am I asking for trouble? I don't have any experience with bower vines (pandorea jasminoides) but my research has only told me good things about it.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 1:05AM
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I love your mixed hedge idea - bower w/ bougainvillea. Did you go ahead with it? How did it turn out? I am planting a bower hedge but need more plants, and since everyone is sold out, I thought about mixing it up, too. Thanks!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Hi Leilamh,

Not sure if you're in the Phoenix/Glendale area, but I saw some bower plants at Summerwinds Nursery on W. Bell last weekend. I love your idea to mix bower w/ bougainvilleas. I'm also dreaming up ideas for a mixed hedge for our block wall that runs along the street (corner lot) -- I keep coming back to this thread for inspiration. I bet your hedge will be beautiful!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 7:58PM
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