Suggestions for Fast Growing Tall Evergreen Hedge/Screen

hvaldez(7)March 26, 2011

My neighbors have decided to plant/park there RV trailers in there yards. I really enjoy entertaining, gardening and enjoying my garden space and now have to look at these in full view. Can you suggest a tall fast growing evergreen shrub that can hide all this. I don't really want arborvitae. I was thinking Leyland Cypress since they seem to grow really fast. Or some type of Laurel but I am not sure which variety would work best or if they are fast growing. I also read a little about yew and certain holly varieties. I am not a big fan of Photinia. That would be for a full sun location and would like to cover up to 10-15 feet high and at least 20 feet in length. The other side of the yard is partial sun/shade area near 2 full grown Incense Cedars. There I would like to grow something 10 feet high and wide.

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Dan Staley

Surely among the five most common questions on GardenWeb. Everyone here can give their opinion, then use the search function to get the 10,000 opinions on that particular plant.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:03AM
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And there have been many similiar threads on this forum asking the same may want to search the archives to review those discussions as well :-)

But to start the discussion again.......arborvitaes are really ideal for this type of situation, which is why you see them everywhere. They don't get overly large, they don't take up a lot of real estate, they are perfect for narrow privacy screening. But they don't grow very fast, deer love them and they are as common as mud.

Leyland cypress can grow very rapidly but also very large. It consumes a lot of real estate. You can keep them smaller but are looking at a lot of maintenance to do so. Same with Green Giant arborvitae.

Laurels tend to be borderline invasive here and are not encouraged. Photinia has disease issues. Holly could work but most larger growing hollies can also contribute to potentially invasive situations and they also do not grow very rapidly.

Yews are excellent for shadier locations but are slow growing. Aucuba or Japanese laurel is also possibility.

The sunnier areas could be covered by Pacific wax myrtle, a fast growing native shrub, or possibly ceanothus, upright junipers or a mix of evergreen and deciduous shrubs. Think hedgerow or a tapestry hedge - something that provides not only screening but also wildlife habitat and season long interest.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:10AM
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javan(9b n. coastalCA)

We have had good luck with black-stemmed pittosporum.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:53AM
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Western Red Cedar

I needed fast growing privacy and planted 9 trees about 5 years ago. They reached the height I needed in their 3rd year (about 15-16') and now we just prune each fall. They were trained early to be slim since I didn't want them to take up too much room in my garden.

I'm really happy with them and they don't get bent out of shape from the weight of snow like pyramidal cedars do.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Thanks everyone for the helpful suggestions. I did read some of the other threads before posting as I know this is a common question. Sometimes Gardeners find/experiment with new varieties and such that may not have been mentioned before and that is why I submitted my post.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 2:00PM
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FWIW, black stemmed Pittosporum, Pittosporum tenuifolium, will not survive long in the PNW. It is a zone 8 plant at best and even that is iffy. And western red cedar is going to be very similar to Leyland cypress or Green Giant arborvitaes in impact, just not as fast growing. Too large to be appropriate for a lot of gardens, difficult to maintain at a smaller size (unless selecting a very compact cultivar) and with an aggressively wide-spreading root system that makes other gardening in the vicinity difficult at best.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Dan Staley

I will say, along with GG, that my default is arborvitae. And I also like looking for examples of arborvitae gone crazy, and swallowing the front porch and starting on the roof...

Leylands are prone to disease and other fun bits. Yew are slower growing. I also used to like looking for laurel shrubs gone crazy, then butchered to keep in check. Nonetheless, you're going to have to get out the tools if you don't want to wait for several years.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback!! I bit the bullet and just finished planting 3 Leyland Cypress. I know it will be a chore to keep them in check if I do hedge them and I have the enough garden space to allow the growth. Actually, I think this is the first time I have planted something this large. They will add some dimension to the garden which is a plus. I do have one more question: When I took them out of the pots and removed the ties and burlap, they were in heavy clay type soil and not a lot of roots. They were in 3.5 gallon containers. The growth is about 3 feet high and wide. I loosened and removed some to most of the soil. Is this normal to have so little roots?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 4:34PM
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Dan Staley

No. May have been dug and potted. All the more important to have planted properly and to give adequate water and no fert. And to have planted properly. And for future readers, to pull out of pot in nursery and inspect.

BTW, Great Britain has a great thing called 'right to light' and recently clarified with something called a 'Leylandii Law'.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 7:14PM
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I suspected these might be questionable once I took them out of the nursery pots. I planted them with some "tree/shrub" soil which says its fortified with a slow release fertilizer. Is that too much? I just work some into the existing soil. If they don't work out I will dig them up and take them back. Thanks again for the feedback!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:08PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The native cedar is most adapted to local conditions and the most liable to produce and attractive wall of green, unless site conditions result in scraggly growth (in which cause other arborvitaes will be thin also) or the darker green of the Leyland cypress is preferred.

When sheared closely from the start the cypress is also good for getting a very tight surface.

When planting never amend back-fill of individual planting holes, esp. on a clay-like soil.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 11:03AM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Even Western Hemlock can make a nice, tight hedge if sheared closely at frequent intervals. Sooner or later though, you lose the battle. Same with Leylands.
Emeralds would have been my choice hands down. You can buy them fairly large and they don't skip a beat when transplanted.
You were looking for something different and chose Leylands.
You can lead a horse to water.....

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 11:51AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Closely pruned Leyland hedges have been maintained in Britain for some time now. And they do not get adelgids.

'Smaragd' is prone to root rot, resulting frequently in failures being scattered through hedge plantings - and prompting multiple questions on internet forums about why there are dead ones here and there in a hedge. With hedges, as with other formal plantings the last thing you want is failures causing the outline of the planting to be lost.

Such variations in growth (or survival) are, of course one of the main reason to avoid formal plantings.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 1:49PM
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    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:51AM
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I always wonder when these random posts from out of nowhere appear on very dated or stale threads.......why?? Was this looked up intentionally?

FWIW, Eugenia (Syzygium) is not gonna work in the PNW, in case anyone was thinking of is a semitropical plant native to southeast Asia and Australia.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:23PM
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I think maybe people google a question and these posts come up, or else they do a search on the site and the post comes up and they don't notice the old date. It's nice of you to update it because people still read these old posts for ideas!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:21PM
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