Natural Privacy Fence..These good?

diddlydooJune 26, 2006

I had someone from nursery (landscape designer) come over and see my backyard to suggest plants for a natural fence on one side. I have leyland cypresses lining the back for privacy and some type shrub (that looks like boxwood) on other side.

He suggested a variety of things to go on the other side including some Tea Olive, Holly, Ligustrum, another leyland in the middle. Good suggestions? I was reading up on ligustrums and a lot of people don't like them and I read other places where holly grows slow. Does the holly grow high?

What makes good privacy fencing as far as bushes/trees that grow fast and look good. Should I stick with his suggestion of evergreens?

I'll probably go with what he suggests, but would like to get other's input as far as any experiences with these plants that might change my mind.


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If there's anyone in the family that is allergic to pollen, ligustrum is not a good idea to have near the house. Wax leaf ligustrum makes a very good evergreen screen. Grows fast and can be severely pruned if needed. There are other kinds of ligustrum that are not as good looking.

Neither Holly or Tea Olive grows fast. However, good size specimums are available for both. You wouldn't have to wait. I'm not fond of Holly because of the sharp leaves. That's not good if you have children playing in the area, but it does make a good show.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 7:20PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Tea olive wouldn't be the very best privacy screen but it could be blended with other shrubs.

I happen to LOVE tea olives because of the wonderful fragrance they provide from the first cold snap all the way through till spring.

So far I have three good sized shrubs and will keep looking for places to plant a few more.

They can sometimes become leggy but I keep mine topped off at about six feet high and they are becoming very full after 3 years.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2006 at 10:46PM
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I love the smell of tea olive also. I'm excited about them putting some in the yard. If it gets too leggy or not producing the privacy, then I'll have to add something I guess, but thanks for the heads up on that.

I think the ligustrum will be ok because it's a fast and tall grower. Will the holly grow tall eventually? Are there some types of holly that make better privacy fences than others? I'm looking for over 6 feet because the house next door is kinda higher up than mine. I can be patient with these if they will eventually be higher.

I'll have to make sure with landscaper that it is was leaf. I hope so. All he called it was ligustrum and told me that it has a fragrant white bloom and black berries during the winter. This is my first house so I'm still learning flowers/shrubs/trees. I'm learning a lot from these forums. They are great!

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 10:22AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Consider cryptomaria - Japanese Cedar - they are similar to Lelyand cypress, but a better form (I think) they grow fast and can get up to 40 ft high and 20 feet wide.

We bought 4 at Pikes 2 years ago, they were about 3 feet and they are now up to almost 7 feet and filling out nicely. You could put another smaller shrub in between them until they fill in.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:23PM
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yankee_in_va(z7 VA)

Nellie R. Stevens is a holly that you might want to try - nice looking and gets plenty big enough for screening.

I believe waxleaf ligustrum is also referred to as ligustrum lucidum. Does seem to be a pretty fast grower and would make a good screen.

I would think twice about the leylands. Even though you have some, they don't have the best rep as far as sturdiness and insects, and there are other arborvites that are better. Plus, leylands can get huge!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 8:19AM
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I am also looking for suggestions for a natural privacy fence. I need something relatively inexpensive (I need to plant a lot of it) that grows fast and can tolerate part sun to shade. Will wax leaf ligustrum fit the bill?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 1:26PM
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You may want to check out Wax Myrtle, Myrica cerifera.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2006 at 7:40AM
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Do wax myrtles grow to the ground and are they pretty full?

Also, I like the holly and looked up the Nellie Stevens holly. I really like the looks of that, but do they all grow so tall and wide? I have a small backyard and putting these near property line and don't want so much going into their yard. Is there a type holly that grows pretty fast, yet not so huge? If you keep the Nellie Stevens trimmed and prunned, then will that keep them manageable? Sorry, I'm a novice... :-)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2006 at 4:02PM
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catbird(z7 AL)

Wax myrtles can be grown as bushes which are full from the ground up or they can be limbed up into tree form. They're pretty either way.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 10:37PM
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wax myrtles can be a nuisance if they like the spot. They send up shoots that can be a pain to get rid of. The older ones do tend get leggy and the limbs get brittle.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 1:42PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Good ol' Foster Holly is more pyramidal than the Nellie Stevens and grows fairly quickly.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 11:40PM
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yankee_in_va(z7 VA)

Keeping your Nellie's trimmed shouldn't hurt their appearance.

Mary Nell holly is smaller than Nellie. Dwarf Buford holly is smaller yet.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 8:53AM
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You have an important decision to make here. Why plant something that gets taller at maturity than you want, and then have to spend time pruning it? It's far more logical to plant shrubs that reach and stay at the height you want. So, how tall do you want this natural privacy fence to be? Also, how many linear feet or yards will this cover? And what will be on the other side? There are several hollies that would work, but the height you want/need is the most important factor to begin with. I'll say right now that Nellie R. Stevens is the most dense and beautiful plant for privacy screening, but it does get very large and wide. Other hollies may be better choices.
Of course you want evergreen shrubs; otherwise, in the winter you have no privacy. And please don't worry about how fast hollies grow. They are no slower than any other quality plant.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 5:47PM
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Not fancy, but easy. I like it

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:01AM
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I have Leyland Cypress and weeping privet, with the privet in front. I am amazed at how large this hedge has grown in about 7 years. I planted it to keep neighborhood kids from using the yard as a playground. Worked beautifully. Very pretty now, good background for other plants, etc. I do have a big yard, which is good, because otherwise, the privet would eat the house. If you have a small yard, you do not want a hedge of these plants.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:05PM
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I finally got my natural privacy fence. Thanks everyone for suggestions. I ended up with Burford hollies, ligustrum, tea olive and cedar. Here's some pics. Hopefully in a few years, it'll fill out pretty good. So far I'm happy with my choices of tree/shrubs. They put soaker hoses under the pinestraw.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 7:03PM
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Really pretty, glad you did not get the leyland cypress...the writer who said they were susceptible to insects and disease was right on target. Wax myrtle would have been good too...they are impossible to kill!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 8:12AM
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Thanks oconeepotter. Actually I typed in wrong regarding the trees. I did get a Leyland Cypress. I typed 'Cedar' by accident. Actually, I have a line of leylands in my back of backyard for privacy and they are all tall and mature and doing great....even after we had a really bad ice storm in Greenville last year (knock on wood).

Anyway, the guy planted a variety and only added one in the group so hopefully with a lot of tender loving care and watering, I can keep them all alive.

Here's some more pics of backyard and you can get a glimsp of Leylands in my backyard already.

This last pic is what I have on opposite side of backyard for privacy....a line of some type shrub. It's not boxwood, but unsure of it's name.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 12:31PM
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I did a search and came by this thread. Ironically, I have the same problem and am in upstate SC. The main difference is that size is not a problem.

I have 90 feet I need to cover and am looking at the exact same plants. I have leylands running down the side of the property so do not want leylands but am interested in a combo of tea olives and maybe Nellie stevens. I am also thinking of doing Southern magnolias but the deer love to rub their antlers on the ones we have in the back yard.I am also considering Deodora cedars. Looked at wax leaf ligustrum but they may not grow tall enough.

Diddlydudette, How is your hedge screen doing?


    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 1:57AM
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Hi, I want to put up a natural fence. My landscaper suggested ligustrum because they grow fast and they put a show from berries to flowers and fragrance. I do want them as high as 6-7 feet for privacy. My house is a corner lot that enters into a cul-de-sac. I get mixed information about these evergreen and undecided what to use. I want the fast growth, the showy living fence and if it has fragance then great sitting on my deck with a draft of fragance wind well I think this would be amazing. Am a novice at this but would hate to put up a wood fence to acquire the privacy I yern. Please help.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 8:07AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

dudette, hope you got yourself a good deal on a gas powered hedge trimmer and a lopping pruner because Burfordii can get huge in every direction. They do like water and will steal it from whatever is growing nearby.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 2:57PM
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