Can I use a holly as a privacy fence?

butterfly4uFebruary 15, 2007

Hi all!

I have a small dilema. I have a small yard with virtually no privacy and at the end of the small rectangle yard I was wondering if I could plant a nice holly that would get large so that I wouldn't see my neighbors.

Do Hollies grow fast enough? Are they faster than conifers?

Arborviates are beautiful but they grow soooo slooow.

I was wondering if a nice size holly tree would grow faster?

It is full sun all day.

Thanks for any advice!

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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

Hi butterfly,
Hollies grow faster than conifers, but I don't think they'll grow faster than arborvitae. Arborvitae are actually one of the faster growing plants.
How high does the screen have to be? I have just recently discovered that some grasses make a WONDERFUL screen. Just about any variety of Miscanthus, like Zebra Grass, which can get up to 8 feet tall. You don't have to cut them down in the fall/winter, but it's best to do so in the spring, but they'll come right back. And they *love* full sun.
Even better...if you have patience, you can divide them after just 2 or 3 years, and spread them out. They'll be happier and healthier for it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:27AM
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Thanks for the reply naturenut PA
I love the idea of the grass. Thank you.
Keep warm!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 11:27PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

I've only grown one or two varieties of holly, and they haven't struck me as fast-growers.

If you've got your heart set on holly, Dragon Lady might work because it stays slender and won't fill up a small yard. It'll probably take at least 4 or 5 years to provide screening, though, depending on what size you buy.

Speaking of size, if you do decide on an evergreen like holly or arborvitae, splurge on the largest one you can afford. There's nothing more agonizing than waiting years and years for tiny plants to grow up in front of an ugly view. And there's nothing more GLORIOUS than having a giant screening tree installed. It's one of the few gardening situations where I'd go for instant gratification.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 2:08PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

naturenut wrote:

"Hollies grow faster than conifers, but I don't think they'll grow faster than arborvitae. Arborvitae are actually one of the faster growing plants."

Arborvitae is a conifer. So your statement doesn't make any sense.

conifer: a tree that bears cones and evergreen needlelike or scalelike leaves. Order Pinales, class Pinopsida, subdivision Gymnospermae: several families, including
Pinaceae, pine family
Araucariaceae, araucaria family
Podocarpaceae, yellow-wood family
Sciadopityaceae, umbrella-pine family
Cupressaceae, cypress family
Cephalotaxaceae, plum-yew family
Taxaceae, yew family

Arborvitae is in the cypress family.

Holly is not a fast growing plant.

butterfly4u: You seem to want a fast growing evergreen, either a conifer or broadleaf. The fastest growing evergreen you can find is Thuja "Green Giant" which is an arborvitae. It is perfect for instant privacy screens or lining your property. It will block out neighbors, noise and unsightly areas. It is said to grow 3-5 ft. per yr. Plant them every 5-6 feet for a thick barrier. Left unpruned, rows will grow 20 to 30 feet tall. For fast growth get a plant with a good root system. They are a hybrid and are grown from rooted cuttings, so get one with a good root system.

Another choice is "Leyland Cypres". It is the classic choice for privacy screens, wind breaks and noise barriers.
It is a fast growing, fragrant and thick plant, most attractive when planted in groupings. They grow up to 3-4 feet per year. They are not as hardy as Thuja "Green Giant" but will do well in SE PA. It can grow to over 50' tall, so may need to be pruned. They apparently grow to about 20' tall when planted in rows 5' apart. It is also a hybrid and is grown from rooted cuttings, so get one with a good root system.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 10:58AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

"Arborvitae is a conifer. So your statement doesn't make any sense."

Whoa... that's a little harsh, rhodyman. I'm not sure if you meant to sound so aggressive. The statement makes sense if you insert the word "most" before "conifers" at the beginning, maybe it was just a typo.

This is a friendly forum that's been kinda quiet lately. Let's not scare anyone away :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 7:58PM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

Now that it is very fashionable to live in the city, Fashionistas are generating a great many articles, television spots, and books about gardening in small yards. You might want to head to the library or bookstore to see what's out there. I have a small yard and I've been pleased with the resources that I've found.

I've got to say, I am not a big fan of Arborvitae. Holly seems like a much more interesting choice, especially in light of the fact that you'll be limited by the number of plants you can own, in the first place. I've planted Holly (Nelly Stevens and Dwarf Buford) around a chain link fence, and while I can't say it grew quickly, in a few years, I was very pleased with my choice. I recently read that gardening guru P. Allen Smith did the same thing with Needlepoint Holly, and warned that the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, and the third year it leaps.

Pipe Carol is right, slurge on the largest plant that you can afford. I amost never do this, but when I do, I am always very, very happy that I did.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2007 at 7:59AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I sincerely apologize. I didn't mean to be aggressive. I just don't want newbies to think that the Thujas (arborvitaes) are not conifers and that holly is fast growing. Some people believe everything they read.

Someone else said that Douglas Fir is fast growing. It is in Oregon but not in Pennsylvania. It grows about half as fast as most pines, spruces and true firs like Concolor Fir in Pennsylvania.

Regarding a privacy fence, here are my recommendations:

Thuja "Green Giant": it is an arborvitae that if planted on 5' spacing will provide a privacy screen. They grow very quickly and will form a screen about 5' thick and about 25' tall. It is evergreen and will form a solid screen. It will take full sun and is very tolerant of soils. It is very cold hardy.

"Lelyand Cypress": it is a similar plant. Similar size. It is not as hardy but should be OK is SE PA. It doesn't grow quite as fast.

Both of these will probably have to be topped to keep from getting too tall.

A more costly solution that takes up less space is 'Skyrocket' juniper. A newer plant is 'Blue Arrow' juniper.
They are both cultivars of Juniper virginiana and do very well in this area in sun or partial shade. They grow more slowly but take up less space. If planted 18" apart they would form a screen about 18" deep and about 12' tall. They grow about 18" per year when young.

While I am on my truth in botany kick, did you know that there is a broad leaved conifer, one that has leaves rather than needles or scales. It is the yellowwood tree from South Africa. Its leaves are the size and shape of those on a weeping willow. However it is a Podocarpus which are conifers. It is sometimes called Japanese yew, or Buddhist pine but it is neither a yew or pine. I am not suggesting that anyone north of Florida grow it. I just found it interesting when someone told me that a tree that looked like a weeping willow was a conifer. I had never seen a conifer before that didn't look more like a pine or juniper. Here is a photo showing the leaves and cones.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia article on Podocarpus.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2007 at 11:06AM
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I wante to plant Foster Hollies and Leyland Cypress trees in a row together as a rear yard screen, but I am not sure how that will look. Will they work well together(vision, height and width)? I love the look of the Foster Hollie but only, but wanted the Leyland Cypress for its fast growth. The currant Hollies will be 5ft tall after planting and the area is 70ft wide. What do you think?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 4:02PM
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I have two giant hollys in my back yard. The are very dense, and completely block out everything behind them. They do not grow quickly; however, consider using holly food to help them along.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 2:55AM
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What can be grown alongside Thuja Green Giants for a mixed hedge? I have 40' to fill behind my house, so I was thinking maybe 7 or so Green Giants and then planting some type of shrub or plant in between them. Some ideas I have: knockout roses, winter jasmine, forsythia, laurels, maybe even some wildflowers like black eyed susans ...

What do you think?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 7:17PM
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