Favorite Plant to Use for Hedge

aloha2009July 30, 2012

With no backyard privacy at all, I was hoping to create a semi-intimate feeling on a patio that will be underneath our deck.

Some possibilities were Annabelle Hydrangea, but since it will only flower a few weeks, I'm thinking it may not be quite right - though they will be planted other places.

Boxwood wouldn't be too bad, but I've heard they can smell - not something right next to where we'll often be sitting.

I love the feel of Yews but know this Colorado sun typically fries them to pieces. These will be in the shade until mid afternoon, so I'm thinking they would might be OK.

Some important attributes are.

It must be below 36" (or can be trimmed occasionally to keep them there).

Tolerant of at least semi-shade if not shade.

Fragrant would be a plus.

Semi-evergreen would be nice or ones that green up early and last into fall.

Flowers would be a bonus but it must be a very tidy, neat plant.

With no grass in the backyard, I want this particular area to have a very manicured look. I have other areas for flower beds, so it's not like the entire backyard is in stiff rows.

What do you think of my suggestions? Do you have additional ideas that do well in the Denver metro area?

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david52 Zone 6

Holly? I have a few plants here and there - they don't grow all that quickly, and they'd make an attractive hedge - evergreen, with lots of 'winter interest' from the berries.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:15PM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Euonymus seems to be well-adapted to all sorts of conditions, and comes in variegated, golden, and straight green. I had a couple bushes that were getting out of control that I seriously hacked back last year, and they filled in nicely by the end of summer (I wasn't worried about shape or looks at the time), and so this spring, I was able to more selectively prune to a nice round shape, and it's only getting shaggy now, and might benefit from a shaping trim if I was concerned for shape. They have some little flowers sometimes but they're not very showy, and I can't speak to how fragrant they are because I haven't paid much attention.

Anyway, something to consider...

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:33PM
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Alpine currents can make a nice hedge. They have a wide range of light tolerance as well as being tolerant of alkaline soil. There are a few different varieties that mature at different heights, a google search of Ribes alpinum will
give you a quick overview.
I have several plants, and though I don't shear them they do look really nice that way.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 12:13AM
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I realize that this is a late thank you, but figure a late thank you is better then none at all. Great ideas! I'll have to see what I can find inexpensively this spring. Having to buy so many new plants, I know will get expensive before it's all put in. At least it's a DIY.

Besides the shady area, I'm now considering putting a small hedge in a sunny rocky location too. It could be a neat and tidy perennial or again a shrub. I don't know if daylilies could take the rocky soil but I think it might look nice. Simplicity in the area is key since this narrow area (10' deep) in essence, is the middle of our yard, with a path through it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 12:31AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I don't think "rocky soil" would bother daylilies at all, Aloha, but I do kind of think the foliage might wind up hanging over your path more than you want it to. A dwarf daylily like 'Stella d'Oro' wouldn't have that problem (and it blooms for a long time!), but it's only about a foot tall!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:02AM
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Skybird, that's good to know that daylilies can grow in rocky soil. Perhaps I could have a ground cover in front to allow for the foliage drooping over, or allow enough space for it so it's not impeding on the narrow 2' path. I'm thinking I'd like to have lamium on the one side (fairly shady). I'd love to put it on the other but it gets a lot more sun and I don't want the water bill to be much more out of sight then it already was. I've considered sedums or something for the other side. I would prefer the same ground cover on the both sides but strange as it might seem, there is a definite dividing line as to the sun and no sun in this area. Any suggestions for something that is neat, low to the ground, drought tolerant, and pretty that could grow in both area?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 11:47AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Aloha,

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your spacing again. What I read is that the space you'll be planting in is only 10" wide. IF that's true, and if the planting strip is right next to the walk, I still don't think daylilies will work for you.

When people look at daylilies they tend to look at the flowers and not really "see" the foliage, not realizing how much it considerably wider than the base of the plant. Here are some more where you can see that it would need to be planted pretty from the "edge" of something to keep it from onto the walk or grass or whatever. So if I misread and you have more space than I thought they might work but if your planting area is IMMEDIATELY adjacent to the walk, especially if the walk is only 2' wide, I don't think it will. [Most people don't pay much attention to this either, but many daylily varieties don't really bloom all that long, so all you'd have most of the time would be the foliage.]

In you can see how much the foliage is flopping already even when they're still young. I think they're pretty too and I'd have more but I just don't have the room they'd need in my small yard--even the ones I have I expect I'll need to keep dividing them to just keep a "small piece" in my yard, and during the summer (even with as small as they are now) I often go around and cut shorter any of the blades that are hanging over something--which is usually most of them. You could cut off blades hanging onto your walk too, but to do it so they look nice means you have to cut them one by one so you can get the right angle on each blade to keep it looking fairly decent!

Hen & Chicks, as near as I can tell!, will grow absolutely anywhere! Sun, shade, doesn't seem to make any difference at all! And you could mix different varieties and let them grow together which would still give you some variety in the appearance. It would probably be best to pick all varieties in the same size range, like medium, or at least no very small ones since the larger ones would probably eventually grow over the small ones anyway, but you could get fantastic color variety--especially in spring/early summer. Depending on what you plant for the taller plant, you'd probably want to keep the ones growing right up around the base of the plant pulled out, but that's easy--and you'd most likely need to do that with any "dense" type of ground cover. Hen & chicks also have the advantage of being able to keep out most--not all--weeds after they become well established and are growing tightly together. If you want to check out some of the possibilities, check out SMG Succulents (set on the first page of the "P's"!!!) and Simply Succulents, two sites I found when I was looking thru cnetter's (doesn't post anymore!) pics of ALL the hen & checks she has! Some day, when I'm rich!, I want to buy some of these!

Most sedums will do well in sun or shade, but the ones in the sun will probably look somewhat different from the adjacent ones in the shade, and to maintain a nice "even" and "dense" appearance they need to be cut back once or twice a year and it would be pretty bare looking while you were waiting for them to regrow after they were cut down.

The other best thing I can think of (in succulents) would be Delosperma basuticum, either 'White Nugget' or 'Yellow Nugget'. Those are the very dense iceplants--I've been giving the 'White Nugget' away at swaps. They grow very densely (but also spread more slowly than the ones with a "looser" habit) and require very little care.

The best thing I can think of in a non-succulent would be Ajuga, the small one 'Chocolate Chip' would give you a dense, bronzy-green covering, but to look good you'd really need to go over the whole area and cut the dead flower stems down when they finish blooming.

Other non-succulents like the creeping thymes, creeping veronicas, and such will just keep going and going and going--out onto your walk and whatever you have on "the other side!"

Lamium ('Pink Pewter' is my favorite) can take most any light conditions but it does better with more shade, and it would require a lot more water to keep it looking good in sun. I know some people think Lamium is drought tolerant, but while it wouldn't die in dry conditions if it was in shade, I don't think you'd be very happy with the appearance either--mine's in mostly shade and I water it quite a lot. [Same thing with the Ajuga! It won't die if dry, but it'll look a lot better if kept moist to wet!]

The sun's out and I want to get outside to do some gardening before it gets cloudy again, so I have to go! Pardon any typos! Don't want to take the time to proof it!


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I went back to quick check the links--which worked in the preview, and one of them doesn't work in the post! I'll try it below and if it doesn't work from there there's just one less pic!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Thanks for all the info Skybird, it's rather windy where I'm at to garden

The area is about 10' wide so I have some room. I was thinking of having about 2-3' on one side. Perhaps putting Annabelle Hydrangea with either lamium underneath, or perhaps just the hydrangea. This area will be right next to a patio about 12" up. No aroma but it would look lovely. I was going to purchase black 2' x 2' pavers which will give me about 5-6' on the other (sunny) side.

I like the hens and chicks and I've got a few starts that are doing quite well from a swap 2 years ago. We plan to be barefoot quite a bit of the time and with only a 2' wide walkway, mistepping onto a hens and chicks may not be that pleasant.

I don't remember what it is but I also got another perhaps sedum that looks interesting and is relatively soft. It too is doing quite well.

I found a non-invasive St. John's Wort ground cover that ultimately didn't (didn't water enough with all the hardscaping going on). What a read, it seemed like a good drought tolerant alternative.

Now that most of the hardscaping is done (still need steps), I attached a photo taken last year (cement was still wet) of the area that I'm referring to. The black pavers will extend to the round patio further away. As you can see, there is an elevation issue that may cause us to have a short retaining wall alongside the pavers. Once we start, we'll decide what we have to do. I'm hoping we can "level" things out with plantings instead of short retaining walls.

Though it shows the area all is shade, it's not that way all summer long. At the solstice, 2' out from the patio is all day sun.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:14PM
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Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)

Hi Skybird,

I was wondering about how many daylilies do you need to plant together to get the density in your photo?

Did you start out that way or did they multiply to get that density? I know I'm supposed to plan 3 years ahead to get the combinations I want, but it's quite difficult.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 11:26PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Leslie,

None of those pics are in my yard, they're just ones I found online to illustrate something. Daylilies do spread quite a bit--the reason I don't have room for many in my yard, but how long it would take for them to fill in completely like in that pic depends on how close together you plant them to start with. The varieties vary some in how quickly they spread, but generally speaking I'd say if you planted them 18-24" apart they'd probably fill in completely in 3-4 years. If you planted them 12" apart I think they'd grow together by the second year. Other conditions like soil, watering, and such would make a difference too, so there's no way to predict exactly. But the more quickly you want them to fill in, the more closely you'd need to plant them--obviously costing more to buy more plants! Daylilies are all fairly close to the same height, but if you're planning to have an area completely filled in like that you might want to be checking the heights when you get them to be sure you don't wind up with something that varies noticeably from the others. And different varieties bloom at somewhat different times, so you might also want to check the booming times when picking them out if you really want to try to get them all blooming at the same time.

This site has some really good info, including info about the different bloom periods. And if you want more go down to the bottom and click on "AHS home page."

If you decide to go for a bed that looks like that we'll all expect to see some pictures of it some day!


P.S. Aloha, somewhere along the way I read your 10' as 10 inches! That's why I was worried about them "hanging over" your walk! No problem with as much space as you have!

Here is a link that might be useful: Daylily Info

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:33AM
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Lesuko(5, Boulder CO)

Thanks Skybird.

I only have 6 daylilies and planted them 18" apart. I am very much an impatient gardener. I only hope to have a garden like the photo at some time. It is quite difficult to plan.

I think I mentioned that we dug up the grass out of our front lawn and it's mostly mulch. I've spent countless hours trying to figure out color combinations, heights, water needs, plant characteristics, etc. And, then last fall I had a moment of, "ah hell with it" and planted stuff randomly in the yard.

I'm back to the planning stage. I'll see how long that will last. I tried winter sowing some plants to save money. Nothing is up yet (other than lettuce) but I have my fingers crossed. But, knowing how things will grow into each other is tough.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Wanna know my recommendation for planting perennials? Go with the system you used last fall!!!

When I moved in here I brought about 70 small divisions of the perennials I had planted at the rental house I lived at previously. To decide what I wanted where I walked around the yard going, Hmmm, I think that would look good there! Plant, plant, plant! Because I had so many all at once in the beginning I did kind of "set the pots out around the yard" first before I started planting so I could easily change my mind if I decided something else "would look better" where I had already set a pot! Now, eight years later when I have something new to plant, guess what?, I use the same system! I walk around eyeing the places available to plant something and divine the best place to stick it! Sometimes that means I decide I need to dig up something else to move it or give it away--sometimes I've already decided to dig something else up and I decide that that's the "moment to do it!"

Uh! Maybe you can tell I grew up in the "freestyle" sixties!

A Perennial garden is NEVER "finished!" It's a perpetual Work In Progress!

When you're planting perennials there's one thing you for sure need to know, and that's the light requirements of the plant! After that I'd say the next most important thing would be the water requirements, especially if you're trying to keep all the xeric plants together so you'll have a bed or two that you can water less frequently. I don't have enough room for separate beds so they all get watered the same so I don't pay "too" much attention to that one, but I do still need to be careful that some of the xeric plants aren't gonna get TOO much water.

Then there's all the other things: height, foliage, flowers, flower color, bloom period, spread, etc. Those are all the things I just kind of intuit as I'm walking around "looking!" So when you get something check out the tag that came with it and then maybe google it real quick to "get a feel for it" and then stand in your yard and decide where it'll be happy--and where you'll be happy with it! If you decide sometime later you don't like it there, dig it up and move it--or give it away! (Or, better yet, divide it and plant part of it somewhere else and give the rest of it away!)

Over the years I've come to the grand conclusion that there are very few perennials where the colors are going to "clash!" It can happen, but not very often, and since they bloom at different times and some of them don't bloom for long at all, it's rare to wind up with things side by side where the colors really don't look good. And since the height given for perennials is the height of the flowers when they're blooming, and many if not most of them have low foliage, and only the flowers are taller, I do also plant "tall things" in front of "short things" sometimes! Some things like Agastache and Russian Sage WOULD block things behind them so they do need to be planted "at the back," or "in the middle." That's all part of the "getting a feel for it" when you google it! (Checking out "images" can be very helpful if it's something you're not familiar with!)

In the whole process, the only time I actually put anything down on paper is when I map some of the things so I'll know what's where AFTER I've actually planted stuff--like all my different types of hen & chicks which I wouldn't have a CLUE if the tags got lost! And tags, no matter how good they are or how careful you are, DO get lost and broken and too faded to read. If you don't really care what you wind up with where, that probably isn't important--but if you plan to give stuff away at the swaps when it gets big enough it's really kind of nice if you can tell people what it is they're getting. So, for instance, with your daylilies you might want to do a quick little sketch and put down the variety names of the ones you have in the positions where they're planted so even when they grow together and the tags are "buried" in the foliage you'll still be able to identify which is which!

So, unless you really enjoy being inside with a piece of paper and a pencil, go out and "picture" it, and then plant it THERE! If Reality winds up not matching your Picture, you come up with a new Picture and try again!

Happy Digging In The Dirt!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:21PM
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