shrubs/hedges for hiding purposes

peckle918April 16, 2010

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the gardening world (one of the new-found joys of home ownership), and I was wondering if I get some advice. My house is surrounded by 70 ft oaks that allow for some sunlight, but not full sunlight. Our backyard leading up to the house is sloped down with a drop-off right before hitting our house. Because of the slope, I cannot get back in there to do regular maintenance of about 1/3 acre of land. This provides for an unsightly view from the windows facing that way. I'd like to put something (shrubs or hedges, preferably no trees) right before the drop off that will be more pleasing on the eyes than the dead leaves and jungle growing back there. I'm looking for something that is about 3-4 ft in height, grows pretty fast, dense, has leaves that stay all year round, can be pleasing on the eyes, and needs to line around 80 feet.

Our initial thought was using privet hedges or canadian hemlocks. Does this seem like a good option, or are they going to grow too tall? (I do plan on using a hedge trimmer at least once or twice a year if necessary to maintain height and aesthetics). Personally, I would like something that is a bit more colorful or pleasing to the eye, but I can't seem to find something that will have leaves year-round and grows well in partial sunlight, and most importantly, won't break the bank.

It seems there are decent deals on privet hedges and canadian hemlocks, so that I would be able to cover that area for under $75-100. Are there any other options?

Thank you all in advance for your help! Oh yeah, I live in King of Prussia (right outside of Philadelphia) and it is Zone 6.

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leslies(z7 No VA)

I think your best bet is a mix of shrubs and small trees that are OK in some shade - not planted in a line, but like woods: one here and one there all the way to the drop-off.

Five easygoing natives that grow well in this area are cornus florida (dogwood), cercis canadensis (redbud), lindera benzoin (spicebush), hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) and calycanthus floridus (sweetshrub). You could underplant with ferns, mayapple and hellebores and provide yourself with a zero-maintenance "step-down" from 70-footers to smaller scale plants. It will still have a woodland (jungle!) look, but I think you'll have to learn to like that because of the big trees.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 10:27AM
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annebert(6b/7a MD)

Good idea, Leslie. I'd add hollies and small yews as well.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 5:47PM
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You might enjoy a few Kerrias. They do well in partial shade, and get about six feet tall. They will spread over time, perhaps too much in rich soil. They are clump forming and develop fairly rapidly from the center, with straight, long, rather weak green stems that have attractive small lance-shaped flowers, with yellow blossoms along them in the early spring.

Oakleaf hydrangea will eventully get to six feet or so, and can be quite attractive. It, too, has weak stems which can break fairly easily.

Forsythia would be another option; it also does well in partial shade. Both lose their leaves in the winter. but eventually their stems get dense enough to still have a screening effect. (The Chinese have a strain of Forsythia bred to have antibiotic properties in its buds...)

If you have the room for it, a doublefile viburnum--or even a miniature one--provides excellent screening, and the leaves tend to winter over. That would look good in one back corner.

Yews do well in partial shade and can be purchased inexpensively from the big box stores. They develop well and can be put in quite small; in a few years they will put on quite a bit of growth. There are vertical, round, and horizontal strains, and a mixture of these types can be quite attractive. They can have a good appearance without pruning. They all can become quite large eventually. The foliage winters over well, but is so dark that you may find an exclusive planting of it gloomy. The birds can eat the fully ripened fruits, but the seed and foliage are toxic.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 12:28AM
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