Looking for a tall hedge- holly?, also hens and chicks question

lindsrocMarch 3, 2012

I had posted a while back that we are looking to add privacy to our front and side yards. we were looking at maybe planting some green giants in the front corner of the yard to block a busy road that we are on the corner of. the problem is i dont know if we have enough room. I have been looking around online and was wondering about holly bushes? There is one called Nevin Stevens Holly, i would be looking to grow it into a tall (8ft +) dense hedge. Would this plant be good for what I am trying to achieve or am I better off with the emerald or thuja green giant. Sorry if I sound naive, but I am 100% brand new to gardening, this is our 1st house.

One more question... I ordered these plants off QVC just because they look so cool- does anyone have experience with them, where would be the best place to plant them etc?

Here is a link that might be useful: Plants on QVC

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sorry that should be Nellie Stevens Holly.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 7:42PM
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Sempervivum are succulents, and need a sunny, dry location.

I haven't grown Nellie Stevens, but all the hollies I've planted have ended up getting wider than tall. I also wanted to use them for a privacy hedge, and have been disappointed. In 20 years, I still havn't gotten the height I needed from these.

So 2 things - make sure NS will really reach the height you want, and, equally important, buy them from a reputable nursery, so you can be really sure you're getting the variety you want. Other sources can be less expensive, but the probability of getting something other than what's on the label is much higher the further from 'reputable nursery' you get.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:39PM
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molie(z6 CT)

There are some things you'll need to consider:

The holly will need continual pruning to train it as it grows if you want a straight-edge hedge as shown in many nursery photographs.

How much sun does this variety require?

How fast does it grow?

We planted a China Girl, and Boy, 6 years ago and she's only about 4 feet tall now and about as wide. You might want to visit some nursery centers and ask them about holly varieties that will meet your needs.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 8:11AM
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Thank you for the replies. It looks like we might be better off going with a different type of plant/shrub/tree. If we could get something tall and wide for that front left corner (looking at the house) it would really help with the privacy issue and also at night the lights from cars going past shine right in the windows. I guess I will keep looking :)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 10:19AM
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molie(z6 CT)

Did you post on the landscape forum? So many wonderful suggestions are offered there when people have landscaping problems, especially if you provide measurements.

I ask because another option could be the placement of a wide, curved 'berm' out on a diagonal about 12/15 feet from the left corner of the house. This would give an elongated raised 'arc' of land on which you could plant evergreens like rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris japonica, or junipers, etc. which will keep their 'leaf cover' all winter. A berm would raise the plantings about 3/4 feet above the ground level and block car headlights. And if you placed this berm far enough away from the house, it would give you a private patio-like area in the front by the stairs.

From the outside 'edge' of this berm, you could plant low-maintance ground covers and smaller evergreens to spread and cover the corner of the property as it slopes down on both streets. This would solve the problem of maintenance in that lower lefthand corner.

And, because they bloom early before the trees leaf out, you could add clumps of daffodils (or other early spring blooming bulbs) and early perennials like columbine, etc. each season to give color to the area.

Good luck and don't give up! GardenWeb forums are great because the members are so willing to share ideas.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 11:07AM
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cloud_9(z5 CT)

Hen and chicks also needs good drainage - especially in the winter.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 2:38PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

We planted 7 Blue Boy holly bushes and 1 Blue Girl (for the red berries) along the west side of our cottage and they grew adequately fast enough for us (they started as 4 ft high bushes) and we pruned some of the widest branches back each year to get them more dense and symmetrical. They now block the headlights at our corner very well.Also, we planted one Nellie Stevens bush which was about 4 ft. high when it was planted and now is about 10 ft. high. That variety is nice because you don't need both male and female bushes, you get berries from the 1 kind. (it is self-fertilizing). It has remained taller than it is wide.


I recommend getting bushes that are at least 3 ft. high or more, to start with.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 4:28PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I think Molie has got you on the right track here. Do you know yet what the sun/shade hours will be in this area yet? If it's mostly shade, and it might be with that big shade tree in front, then it limits the plant choices.

In any case since you are landscaping a corner lot, whatever you plant should be far enough back from the street so that it does not impede the view of motorists. If you created that berm by left hand corner and planted with broadleaf evergreens like Rhododendrons and evergreen Azaleas (check on eventual size of these) along the berm and in back of the wall, then I think that will give you what you need.

Then you could plant the front of that berm with herbaceous perennials down to the corner. If it's a shaded as much as it appears (especially, if it's shaded in the afternoon) you could plant a Hosta garden there. If you've got enough sun, you could use daylilies and other appropriate perennials and annuals.

Check out the selections of broadleaf evergreens on Weston Nurseries website (be forewarned plants are expensive there). Use the plant library and then choose Shrubs - Broadleaf Evergreens. That will give you an idea of what is available.


Here is a link that might be useful: Weston Nurseries

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 4:38PM
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You didn't like our advice on the other thread to wait to plant? ;>)
I do understand that you want a beautiful view NOW if not yesterday. As a newbie, it's really really easy to spend money that ends up being wasted . . . wrong plant for the spot, or your tastes in plantings haven't really developed so that 3 years from now you wonder "What was I thinking?!" or you order from a nursery that sends out almost dead twigs though their photos looked lovely. I've done all these and more.

I am sending you an email with a website that you can use to check out the reliability of a mailorder or internet nursery. (I can't post it here as GW views the other website as competition.)

I know it's difficult, but until you know how much sun you have there during the growing season you really can't decide on what plants to put there. You also need to know what kind of trees you have since some trees aren't likely to let other plants grow under them due to root competition (maples in particular.) An unhappy plant (spindly or diseased quite often) is worse than no plant in my opinion. Both Nellie Stevens and Green Giant like full sun to part shade and it looks to me like there's a good chance that you won't have that, but you won't know until you've actually observed it. I've known several folks who put up a temporary light weight bamboo fence until plants have grown up enough, and something like that between the big tree and the corner could get you through the first season, along with some large potted plants.

How tolerant of salt are Nellie and GG? Being alongside the road whatever you plant will need some salt tolerance unless you are in an area where salt isn't used, especially since at an intersection more salt may be used. Around here, the salt spray thrown up by tires does damage to evergreens' foliage. Your yard is higher than the road so you may not need to worry about root damage from salt.

You commented at one point in the previous thread:
"Maybe our main goal is more about creating something beautiful and also adding a little privacy than just about closing ourselves in."

I agree with Steve that Molie is giving you good advice in recommending a berm set back a bit with a variety of plants that are evergreen but shade tolerant. Check out hedges of all of one kind of plant vs a mixed planting by driving around areas with plantings you like. Look at different plants used to block unsightly views and how they are used. Do you need a whole wall of green and do you like that look? (One of the problems with this is that if one dies or grows slower, it can look unbalanced, like a mouth with broken or missing teeth.) Will a mixed shrub border work better? Will tall grasses or a clumping bamboo work better? (though neither of those will work if you have too much shade.) Would just 3 or 5 shrubs and a couple small beautiful trees be enough to pull your attention away from the road and let your eyes rest in the yard? Are you willing to prune to maintain height or width? Would a relatively low fence (to block headlights and some sound) be enough if it had plantings set back from it on one or both sides? Have you figured out if you want to use your front yard or just look at it?

The Missouri Botanical Garden's Plantfinder has the option of putting in plant requirements, and I'd look at plants that are happy with part shade at least. Get a soil test done so you know what your soil has now and may need added. It will also tell you what will grow there, since some plants will only grow in certain conditions (like acidic and high organic content or lots clay and moisture.)

It's good you are asking questions, since it will save you problems in the long run. Here's link to a thread on a mixed border I created for full sun. You would want different plants, but it might help you start thinking about whether you like a mixed planting vs a planting of all of one type of plant. I planned mine to distract from a utility area, partly by adding interest and partly by blocking the unsightly view. There are photos at both the beginning and at the end.


Here is a link that might be useful: Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Of course I took the advice in the other thread too! lol We will wait, but trying to get a plan together so that when we're ready....we can go full force! :) 1st step is we have about 6 inches of top soil going down next month, and then we have a company coming in to hydroseed. after about 3 weeks we will start looking at some plantings.
I really like the idea of a berm!!! What is the best way to tackle that? Would you just use plain soil? Also, would that be best to do before we have the hydroseeding done?
nhbabs... i am going to look for the email you sent, thank you all so much for the info...this website has been so helpful!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Just wanted to add i would prefer mixed shrubs for that front corner and i really like the idea of Rhododendrons etc on the berm and then maybe some hostas and other shade plants in front. I have a bad feeling that tree may need to go in the front yard, at the rate its loosing limbs we may not have to cut it down though! I think we're going to have to call out a tree service and see what they recommend. If it stays, it will definitely be a part sun part shade area and we will need to plant accordingly. Do Rhododendrons do okay in part sun? Thank you all again.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 7:46PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I'm going to repeat Nhbabs. Why the rush? By the time the tree leafs out fully, it will be past the optimal spring planing time. Things can be planted in June, but it takes more time and skill to be successful. Particularly with fairly large plants. So a realistic time to be doing this is next April. By then, your entire view of the plant world may be altered. Things you think are totally neato-keen now may be boring bit players next year.

Remind us, which direction does the house face?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Because I am so tired of looking at the house like this, and of looking out at dirt and road. I will post a pic of the view from my living room to give a sense of what we're seeing and the feeling of total exposure to everyone driving by. Whether its all in our minds, I just want a feeling of personal space. lol
The house faces south.

This is the view from the living room window

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:43AM
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molie(z6 CT)


I hope you checked out the link to nhbabs' beautiful mixed border. It's planted with a variety of plantings and looks great even in the winter!

Notice how your eye travels across the garden to different colors and textures. I liked the way she put it: as your eyes sweep across the landscape, they do 'rest' on certain plants. Because of the differences in shapes and colors she's created visual interest, whereas a row of one kind of plant would be would be boring and dull. Something like this would create an interesting view for you as you look out of your house (as well as creating the privacy and sound/light blocking you need).

Your plan and the choice of plants will depend on what you learn from the kinds of trees, the condition of your soil, and the amount of sun in the yard. Do some investigation now in the early spring then draw up a plan using plants that you like.

There are so many rhododendrons and evergreens available, with differing sun/shade tolerance, that a local garden center might be a good place to start. Visit and ask questions once you know the conditions in your yard. It does seem overwhelming at first, but once you are armed with the facts, you'll be able to create something works well for your yard.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 9:53AM
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lindsroc - I totally understand that you don't like the view out your living room window. But just getting the grass planted will be a huge improvement. In the meantime, I would recommend getting yourself some inexpensive lace curtains. It will continue to let the light in, yet give you some privacy inside the house so passerbys cannot see inside. I actually bought cheap lace table cloths and those are the curtains on the front windows of my house.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 10:23AM
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