Border hedge replacement

JillPApril 10, 2004

I am probabaly borrowing touble and worrying for nothing, but the house next door is up for sale. There is a privet hedge that runs the length of the property that we both take care of, but it is on their property. And I just know the new neighbors will take it out. I have privat hedge on the other side of our lot and along the back. Now I know most people hate privat and it is invasive in the PW, but it is so apppropriate to my 1920's house. It is also an important backdrop to my garden. So, if my worse fear comes true, it gets removed, any suggestions on what to replace it with?

I have debated about replacing it with privat. Drawbacks: high maintenance, and I am not getting any younger and I would have to do all of it now, loses its leaves, and it would probably alienate my new neighbors. In its favor is the fact that it will match the rest of the hedge border and it is so appropriate for a 1920 garden.

I have thought about arborvitae, or another evergreen. It would have to be narrow. Or we have a board fence in a small section behind the garage to hide the composte pile from the alley. I think that would look too solid to run 150 feet, at 5' high. I have an iron gate in the privat hedge along the front on the other side of the house and I thought maybe iron fence, but no privacy and probably way too pricey. I got a reprint of the book on trellis and fencing from the Lee tool company that was mentioned in another thread and they have all kinds of examples of latice/fencing. But it looked so busy.

I have told the neighbors who are selling the house to tell the new buyers that I will maintain the privat, hoping that they won't take it down. I am planting more shrubs in the perienial border to have more of a screen besides the privat.

The hedge runs thru several differennt "zones" in the landscaping. I was even considering haveing different materials. The iron fence in the front yard, until the house starts they are about 12' apart), then start an evergreen hedge back unti the garage starts, and have that be the board fence to sheild the neighbors from the compost pile. Because of the plantings in the garden, there are obvious stopping and starting points. Or is this too much?

The ds suggested offering to take it out for the nighbors and relocating it 2 feet over. The dh did this for me once, 20 years ago, and he almost divorced me then. And it was about 1/3 less in length. But maybe I should attempt that. It would be the summer job.

Now that I have confused the heck out of everybody (and I haven't a clue how to post pictures), any ideas?

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This is history: one summer when I was a kid someone across the street trimmed their privet hedge and my father went over and picked up an armful of the clippings. He cut them into 6 inch lengths with a bit of green at the top and stuck them in the ground, in a line, between us and the neighbour. Lo and behold (this is Easter!) soon we had this beautiful hedge. Everyone had a privet hedge, we boys liked to dive into them. I had an accident on my bicycle once and a privet hedge saved me from harm; my bike was wrecked. I like privet.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 4:40PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

We also had a hedge of common privet when I was a kid. They are only good fall-breakers if they're not too closely trimmed, so that there's a fluffy layer on the outside instead of the hard, twiggy, sharp stuff.
They do make an inexpensive and easy to start hedge, but require too frequent trimming for me. The cutting idea sounds like a good one.
Arborvitae Emerald Green, I believe, grows 3' wide and is easily kept at less than its 15 ft. height, with no trimming required on the sides at all.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 7:02PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Hick's or Hatfield yew would do the trick as well. They would have to be trimmed down for height but would make a nice hedge rather quickly. Dwarf Japanese yew tops out at 5'H and wouldn't have to be pruned, but is slower growing.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 10:16PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Forgot you said narrow. How narrow??

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 10:19PM
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saypoint(6b CT)

Ginger, I'm looking for yews, as well. The Hatfield is a more upright variety, if I'm not mistaken? What's the best for 6 ft. tall and 3-5 ft. wide?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 10:34PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Most of the taxus varieties I know don't fit your requirements. The dwarf plants are too wide; the taller ones too tall. Lots of pruning to keep them at 6'H x 3-5'W. There is one called 'Beanpole' that is about 8'x1-2'. Maybe a thuja like 'De Groot's Spire'? Kind of an exclamation point plant.

Just found some better varieties at the site below--check out taxus x media:

    Bookmark   April 10, 2004 at 11:32PM
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There is room for a wide hedge, it just would take up a lot of flower bed. I will check out the site you posted, Ginger, but not today, time to fire up the stove for the holiday meal.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 9:06AM
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Hi Jill:

This is an interesting 'garden preservation' question, I think. My small 14' x 70' backyard borders the yards of no less than 4 neighbors, so I have had occasion to think about this type of situation often. My experience in installing a new fence and perimeter boundary several years ago would provide good fodder for a TV sitcom; perhaps someday I shall recount the stories here. Here are a couple of thoughts:

You are of course right to be concerned about what the new neighbors will do. But why not wait to talk to them before going too far down the road with re-design ideas? Having the current owner mention your role in maintaining the hedge was a good idea; otherwise, however, my advise would be to go slowly. Don't try to get them to take a position on the hedge one way or another until they've had a chance to settle in and give it some thought. When you've had a chance to meet them, you might casually mention something like "____ told me she mentioned the work I've done in the past to maintain the hedge between our houses. I'm sure you have a lot of other things on your mind right now, but sometime after you've had a chance to settle in, I'd love to talk to you about it for a bit . . . ." Who knows, the may _love_ the dense hedge and the privacy it provides. Especially if it is clear you are willing to continue maintaining it. Just think of the numerous posts on the Landscape Design forum each day saying "help, I want a tall privacy hedge FAST!" From my own experience as a new homeowner, though, I did learn to be wary of neighbors who descended on me with their various agendas before I had even had a chance to unpack my boxes.

Another way to approach this dilemna would be to think about how much the hedge as it exists is worth to you. Instead of investing $$ in new plants and hardscape, you might think about offering your new neighbors some remuneration in return for an easement on their property allowing you to keep and maintain the hedge. An easement would be recorded on their deed, so would provide you with protection even if they in turn were to sell the house. I can't offer legal advice, and you'd have to check with a qualified real estate lawyer in your state, but generally speaking I think that such an easement could either "run with the land" (i.e. be a permanent easement for the benefit of whomever lives on your property) or it could run for a defined period of time--e.g., as long as you and your family occupy your lot. The latter would be a less costly investment for you and possibly more attractive to the property owners, since a permanent easement might be perceived as having a greater (negative) impact on resale value. Alternatively, I wonder if it would be possible to enter into a long-term "lease" of the stip on which the hedge sits for a modest annual sum? Again, you'd need to check with a lawyer as to whether such a lease is feasible.

What I am suggesting is essentially the flip-side of your proposal. Instead of moving your hedge/fence within the bounds of land that you control, consider whether there may be a legal (and neighborly) means of extending your control outside the bounds of your lands. Your hedge sounds like such an integral and irreplaceable part of your garden, it seems like a shame just to give up all of time and work it has taken to get to its current state. Perhaps your neighbors will feel similarly (and perhaps they could also use some extra cash for new home improvements).

Good luck, keep us posted. Kate

    Bookmark   April 11, 2004 at 10:48PM
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ginger_nh(z4 NH)

Very nice, Kate. A good example of how this forum can differ from some of the other forums that could have been approached with this questio(Landscape Design, Shrubs, Profesional Gardener): if we get in the groove of thinking in terms of preservation and restoration, different answers and solutions arise to garden/landscape problems.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 6:13AM
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Wow, thanks Kate, that is definately something I had not thought of. I am not doing anything at all yet, I just know how long it takes me to make design decisions, I thought I better do it now.

No one has said anything about using diferent materials along the property line yet. I have a chance to get some 19th century cemetary fencing (iron, similar pattern to my gate on the other side of house). Not enough for the whole property line, but enough for the formal front yard. Old iron and cut sandstone are my weknesses. I keep telling the dh how cheap I am. Not interested in gold and diamonds, just iron and sandstone.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 7:23AM
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mjsee(Zone 7b, NC)

Kate--that was BRILLIANT! Jill--"just old iron and sandstone", eh? Some of that stuff comes pretty dear--but I'll agree that it's FAR more useful than diamonds!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2004 at 8:18AM
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ZephirineD(z8b OR)

Two years ago, when we bought our house, the first thing I did was tackle the overgrown hedge next to (and on top of) the driveway. It was a real monster that had been neither trimmed nor pruned in years and years...

Well, when the neighbors saw me trimming the hedge, the next door neighbor said hi and commented, "We really like that hedge. It's only just gotten tall enough to obscure the view into your upstairs bedroom window from our living room window."

Then the neighbor across the street came over and introduced himself. He also commented, "You know, when the people two houses over from me moved in, they trimmed their hedge down to four feet and just destroyed my next door neighbors' privacy."

I get it, I get it already!

I reassured both neighbors that I didn't want to kill or even butcher the hedge -- but it did need some care and we wanted to be able to park in our driveway.

And then I pruned it as a line of top-foliaged trees rather than as a hedge (which would have required butchery). The fence behind it preserves privacy at street level, and the hedge is still tall enough to keep everyone's bedroom private. And best of all, my neighbors appreciated that I listened to what was important to them. They tell me, "I just love what you've done with the place!"



    Bookmark   April 15, 2004 at 12:07AM
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Here's my two cents. Yew and arborvitae can be great hedging material, especially yew. But do you have any deer in the area? Even one? Those two shrubs are their choicest morsels. My vote is to hope for the best with the new neighbor, but if they remove it, plant privet inside your property line. I really think this works best with the privet hedge you describe along your other property line. Also, privet is cheap and grows fast. It is more maintenance but is the most visually appealing choice on your property, I think.

Here's my hedge horror story: Some years ago, we had nice neighbors and the woman loved to look into my garden, as she told me early and often. That was flattering and she was welcome to come over anytime. But I wanted boundaries, enclosure (the literal meaning of the word "garden") and privacy. I didn't want to be out deadheading in my bathrobe and waving at my neighbors first thing in the am.

Well, my garden was about to be on a Major Tour. I manicured everything and worked on it full-time, did five years worth of projects in one year, etc. One of the things I did was plant a hedge of Hicks yews along the border between my neighbor and me. They were little but would someday give me the privacy I wanted.

The week before the big day, to my horror, my nice (really) petite neighbor came out with a chain saw and hacked down every mature shrub on the border between us that was on their property. Those shrubs formed the backdrop of an important part of my perennial border and the end of an important vista in the garden. It was awful. Many people on the tour commented on the strange blankness and, of course, the impact of my design was destroyed. Her husband was mortified. To keep good relations, I had to smile and say it didn't matter. But I learned never to incorporate a neighbor's plantings into my design. Why do we have to learn everything the hard way?!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2004 at 9:44AM
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I found this site because I decided today is the day to do something about planting a hedge. You see, today my neighbor cut down a line of at least six fir trees that had been between her house and the next house since the 1920s. She claimed they were bad for her house. The last three were no where near her house. Now that they are gone, I have a view of the neighbor's house, plus the rear of several that front on another street, and vice versa. She appears to be compulsively neat or something. I had not witnessed anything so ignorant in a long while, if ever.

My question is about what type of evergreen hedge I could plant near a sidewalk, with minimal risk of damaage to the sidewalk from roots. I have a corner lot, so my backyard is now much more exposed than it was. I am limited (by regs) to 4-feet in fence height. But the lot is only about 50 feet wide, so I don't want a hedge that will take up a lot of room. Holly species seem to do well here, but I'm not sure I want the prickly aspect. Any suggestions? Hemlock is out, due to woolly adelgid.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 11:12PM
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You need to give more information about your location and growing conditions so that people can offer suggestions for hedge material.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 5:30PM
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Hi Jill, Don't know if you've got round to it as yet but an IDEAL plant for your hedge is Common Laurel ~ Evergreen, tough as old boots, grow it to any thickness you want, good looking hedge keeping in with the age and type of property that you have, impenetrable, does not grow too rapidly and makes a perfect screen also the flowers give off a lovely Honey scented aroma ~ what more can I say ~ suggest you see my recent post 'Post from a vindictive Neighbour' (just copy it into search on top of Garden Web home page, there are a lot of excellent suggestions from our fellow members.
Hope I am not too late ~ see the link below.

See also info' about Common Laurel below.
Regards ... Tony.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info' about Common Laurel

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 9:13PM
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Thanks Tony, I have not seen Laurel growing around here and I am not sure if it is hardy. I usually plant Zone 5 hardy plants, even tho'USDA says I am not Zone 6, I don't believe it. I will do some research here.

I just reread everyone's posts and and again just amazed and thrilled at all the good advice. The new neighbors should be in at the end of the month.

Ginny, at the time you posted, deer were not a problem. I live in a town of 12,000, and not on the edge. Well, a few weeks ago a doe ran thru the back yard. Scared the poop out of all of us. Dashed right between my dd and dh who were about 5' apart. My first thought was dang, I am going to have to re think all my plant material!

I passed on the old cemetary fence, it was from 1830 and my house is 1920 and it was pretty pricey.

There is wire animal fencing in the middle of the privat. And for some reason, the neighbor man started removing it. I asked his wife why and she said he did like catching the clippers on it, but he won't be trimming it anymore I said. She rolled her eyes, said he just has to be doing something outside.

So I will keep everyone posted on the hedge.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2004 at 9:32AM
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