Want 4 foot tall hedge along dusty gravel road

msnpdxMarch 14, 2010

I discovered this forum while searching the web for english laurel. Your posts have been very helpful and I now know all the reasons english laurel is NOT the right plant for this particular application, despite a local nursery visiting my property and suggesting it to me. So thank you.

I own a small acreage property in rural Yamhill County in the heart of Oregon's wine country. Our home is set back about 100 feet from a gravel road with no barrier of any sort between our home and the road. First and foremost I would like to create a cost-effective natural barrier that provides some psychological separation between the home and the road, but which also does not obscure our sight line as we enjoying seeing our neighbors drive by and like to wave and say hello to eachother. So, the first requirement is that I'd like to maintain a maximum height of 4 feet for the hedge.

The second issue is that the road is gravel and throws off a lot of dust in the summertime, though we treat the road each year to minimize the dust. The nurseryman who visited said certain plants won't cope well with the dust which is partly why he suggested the waxy green leaf of the english laurel. Given that I am NOT going to use the english laurel, what plant will cope well with the dust?

We have about 150-200 linear feet of road frontage we would like to plant. The hedge would run north to south (so east/west sun) and the soils are primarily the red Jory soil series found in the vineyards around the Dundee Hills, which I believe run a little acidic.

Stylistically, I like the look of a well manicured hedge, like a traditional boxwood or hew, but don't want to wait very long for the growth to occur. I also like the larger leaf of the english laurel and the way that hedge looks when kept short and well manicaured, like you see around Portland's West Hills or the Dunthorpe neighborhood.

Appreciate the advice you can provide. Your comments on the other, similar posts have been extremely helpful. I wanted to post this specific request because of the dust issue, the short (4ft) height requirement, and the 150 foot length of the hedge (ie, cost and maintenace).

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Maybe try 'Otto Luyken' English laurel. Although that is about as slow as box or yew. But a more sedate grower is what you need for something only 4' tall.

The common desire for an instant screen of short height is not really obtainable with plants. For the most part the small, tidy plants are slow-growing, the fast-growing kinds big and boisterous.

If you don't have the money for fencing that long (now there's an instant screen that does not have to be sheared) or a hedge that long of a quality type of shrub, maybe settle for a screen that does not run that long of a distance.

If you plant a big-growing, big-leaved hedge like regular English laurel it will constantly attempt to burst out of the 4' height. And big leaves make things around them look smaller, form a poor backdrop for anything not of similar coarse texture.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 3:47PM
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I'm aware of all that's been written on the forum about the English Laurel, but want to let you know we have a hedge of the dwarf English Laurel along the front of our property. In my area, SW of Portland, it has only grown to 5-6' high in 7 years and this is from B&B plants that were about 2-3' tall when planted. I love the plant and how slow it grows but the deer also love it. Most of the plants they leave alone, but there are 3 Laurels they continue to nibble on and if I don't get control pretty soon the plants are going to be stunted forever!

Like bboy, my first thought of a nice shrub for the height you're wanting is the Otto. We have those on the back of our property and they are slower growing compared to other shrubs, but not as slow as boxwood. Most of mine reached the 4' height in 6 years and were roughly 3 gal plants when planted.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 11:40AM
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Thanks bboy and annz.

Just returned from the nursery and saw five or six suggestions from the nurseryman, including Otto luyken, which I like. However, I found myself drawn to the 'convex leaf japanese holly.' It had the tidy, uniformity of boxwood, but different enough to distinguish itself. I happened to drive by a nice installation of it on the way home and set against the backdrop of a white split rail fence, it looked even better.

Any concerns about the Japanese holly?

The deer pressure you mentioned on the Otto luyken is a concern for me as we have deer in the area. Being a wine growing region there is constant pressure from deer and birds in the vineyards and the yards of homeowners in the area.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 7:43PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The convex-leaf holly often has poor leaf color in local plantings, but it might be fairly easy to rectify that with effective fertilization. I was looking at some today in a Seattle garden center that was conspicuously partly yellowish right in the sales yard. I've seen or heard it said in the now distant past that this is often a magnesium deficiency on local soils.

Otherwise it may just be a matter of providing some additional nitrogen - the major nutrient most often lacking on cultivated sites here.

Their 'Otto Luyken' was full of Prunus Shot Hole, reminding me that yes, this problem really is too ubiquitous here at present to recommend new plantings of this cultivar. It's quite a spoiler, combining with the already somewhat explosive appearance of this pointy plant to evoke a shotgun blast.

Not a relaxing effect.

The traditional hedges (English) holly, yew and box still have their superior features.

And, like all plants, their own particular requirements and limitations.

As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 11:18PM
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Don't shoot me, but have you considered a wire fencing with ivy? For 30 years we have had an ivy hedge and as hedges go it is easy to maintain (clip once or twice a year hard). It doesn't flower except on old wood (3-5 year old wood) if you are worried about spreading. Mine has never flowered because I keep it trimmed. I like it because for a city lot it can be less than a foot wide and whatever height you would like (mine is less than 3 feet in the front and a little more than 6 feet in the back) In 3 years you get whatever you would like in height-first year sleeps, second year creeps, third year leaps. The leaf size and color fit well with my little cottage style house and makes a nice barrier between the sidewalk and yard with perennials on both sides.

I've tried several other varieties of hedges, and most have been pulled and replaced over the years, but the ivy still looks great for the least amount of maintenance.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 12:07AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Ivy on chain link can be great. A place near here also has box used in the same way, sheared to form a narrow panel of foliage - against a wire fence (I think).

    Bookmark   March 17, 2010 at 1:35AM
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I love the convexa variety of Japanese holly and have low hedges of it in two different areas. However, after several years of growth (maybe 15?), portions of the well-established hedges have started to die back completely, leaving unsightly gaps. Other areas have developed bare spots at the bottom. I've noticed this problem on other Japanese holly hedges around Seattle as well. For the past few years I've had a well-regarded organic gardening company treat the hedges in hopes that this would stem the decline of the hedges, but even their regimen of dormant oil and nutrients has not solved the problem. Another area now appears dead. My hedges are in two quite different areas -- one with morning sun only, and one in full sun. There is die-back in both spots. Of course, ymmv. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:58PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)
    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 12:21AM
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Thanks for the link -- Interesting. Poor air circulation is mentioned as a contributing factor. As my plants are in sheared hedges, the twigs are very dense and crowded, so that makes sense. My neighbor's hedge is not sheared, though, and despite its less dense growth habit, it has worse damage than mine. Mine may have benefited from more nutrients, though.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 1:34AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I have a lot of the convexa form of Japanese Holly and have not seen any die back at all. Most of my plants are 30 years old, both sheared and unsheared. Sun and shade.
How common is this dieback? I've never seen it before,.... but I don't get out much either.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:03AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Not all rhododendrons and azaleas here have root rot either, not all roses have black spot and so on. It does not automatically follow that if a plant is a certain kind and certain problems are seen on that kind in a region, that every specimen will be afflicted. In the case of water molds the specimen has to become infested first, before the disease develops.

As common as a particular strain may become at a particular time, not everyone gets the flu either.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 1:19PM
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Planting English ivy in Oregon is not a great idea. And after June 1, it will be illegal to plant, propagate, sell or transport this plant within the state. This includes both Hedera helix and H. hibernica and for both indoor and outdoor use.

Oregon is coming down hard on noxious weeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Oregon - changes in noxious weed listings

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 12:19PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I have a couple of suggestions, Aronia, there is a dwarf that gets 3' tall, or a low-growing bamboo, Sasaella masamuneana Albostriata, easily transplanted as it fills in to lengthen a row.

Here is a link that might be useful: dwarf Aronia

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 6:28PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Ivy is pretty much all over up here now as well, something that is pretty displeasing.

And probably impossible to reverse.

At least with a sheared planting forming a living fence panel there would be no flowering or creeping across the ground.

As long as there is someone on the site, keeping up with the shearing.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2010 at 10:57PM
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I really like Portugese Laurel (prunus lusitanica). Good glossy evergreen leaves that look great in winter, especially with the reddish tinge to the twigs, and much more refined than English laurel. While it probably looks best as a small tree, I find that it takes to pruning well and have seen it in quite attractive hedges. It grows reasonably quickly.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 12:25AM
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