Advice needed for front screening

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Vivian B, May 23, 2023.

  1. Vivian B

    Vivian B New Member

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    Hello all


    Some back story…

    In 1996, we were given permission by the District of North Vancouver to plant a hedge along the service road in front of our home to act as a natural buffer to help shield from traffic noise and road dust from vehicles that travel on the busier road below the service road. We purchased Western Red Cedar shrubs, and carefully planted and cared for them ourselves. The trees grew into a lovely green privacy screen which was topped and trimmed each year by ourselves and District crews

    Two years ago, due to water main replacement, a crew arrived and razed the hedge. We have been in discussion with the District and councillors for months and now are resigned to the fact that they will not let us replant in the original location. It's a done deal - so no advice needed for that please.

    The District has offered however to reimburse us up to $1,000 towards the cost of planting on our property to create a screen. I'm reaching out for advice on what we might plant.

    We don’t want to completely block our front yard off from the smaller service road directly in front. So not interested in a cedar hedge or the like unless it can be easily pruned to have an open bottom third. We would like our front yard to remain bright and airy. What we are hoping for, is some sort of broadleaf evergreens that we can plant above our stone wall that will allow a site line below to the service road but will provide a green canopy to screen the busy main road. It would need to be approximately 9 feet tall. We have a view of the water so we do not want anything that will grow much above 10 or 11'. We are also concerned about roots damaging the stone wall. Hopefully something reasonably fast growing as we are in our 60s! We have been considering rhododendrons, but not really wanting to have to do the deadheading that would be required. The yard is east facing. Any suggestions where to purchase larger plants would be appreciated as well. I will try to add a few photos. Thank you very much in advance.

    RBVA2646.jpg IMG_7596.jpg IMG_1674.JPG IMG_1678.JPG
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2023
  2. DerekK

    DerekK Active Member

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    I wonder if a mixed planting of flowering shrubs intermixed with a few dwarf conifers might do the trick. Perhaps a few perennials for interest as well. If lower maintenance is an issue this could provide some screening along with some visual interest and require maintenance once or twice a year. Also, differing heights would be more pleasing than a solid hedge of evergreens. Shrubs like Physocarpus (there is a dark red leaved version and a gold leaved version, they flower as well), Abelia, Pieris (many varieties), Choysia, native Mahonia (there are low and tall varieties, flowers that are beneficial to pollinators and hummingbirds).
    I would suggest going to a nursery with a large selection of shrubs to get ideas and to see larger specimens. Our local nurseries don't have the space to carry the variety and size that nurseries in the Fraser Valley do. One that I have used in the past is Art's Nursery on 192nd in Surrey. There are many good nurseries in the valley.
    Hope that helps.

    PS: if the District isn't going to do any further work where your hedge used to be a sprinkling of wildflower seeds would be a nice way of masking the ugly stumps left behind. It appears that there is invasive Himalayan Blackberry starting to grow there now so that will be an eyesore quickly. Districts are quick to cut and remove and slow (read never) to maintain or replant. Just a thought.
     
  3. Vivian B

    Vivian B New Member

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    Thank you very much for your suggestions Derek. I will have a look at the plants you’ve mentioned.
     
  4. woodschmoe

    woodschmoe Active Member 10 Years

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    You might consider Arbutus unedo ‘compacta’. Prone to leaf spot and not a fast grower, but aside from growth rate it meets your general requirements. Commonly listed as 6’ tall, but often closer to 8-10’ in many cases, and amenable to being pruned to raise the canopy leaving the lower third open.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2023
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  5. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Your view is lovely and I understand your concern about dust and noise

    do you have pets or other reason (kids?) to make your lovely front yard safe from the roads?

    do that first - I’d probably choose chain link

    then make a hedgerow type screen

    you can have layers of maybe a couple of smaller ornamental cherries to frame your view

    and rugosa roses

    and Oregon grape

    and acer circinatum

    and maybe a Rhodo or two

    and California poppies and lupins on the street side

    of course our big consideration is WATER

    FORTUNATELY - it appears you have gravity in your favour so you can collect water and let it drain to your new hedgerow soaker hose and get it established

    look at similar neighbourhoods and sun / slope and see what does well

    my design preference is NOT the big wall of Laurel or cedar (cedar: a known residential interface fire hazard these days) - so keep that in mind when you read my input.

    Please let us know what you choose to do - you have so much potential there
     
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  6. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Further to my previous post - above - ALWAYS contact your various utility providers FIRST to establish and mark where your - for example -

    sewer (waste water)
    Incoming fresh water
    Natural gas
    Hydro electric (sometimes overhead … sometimes buried)
    etc
    Are located exactly


    make sure you have a posting plan of your property - you sure don’t want to invest in shrubs and labor on property that is not your property

    also check out any permits and height and tree varieties required/allowed by your local city

    also - invasive species (please don’t plant a hedge of broom (yellow flowers right now)
     
  7. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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  8. Vivian B

    Vivian B New Member

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    We were considering pieris or Teddy Bear magnolias. Do Morella California (Wax Myrtle) grow here? I’ve seen photos of them nicely shaped.
     
  9. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    I refer to “broom” above — this is why we do NOT plant it LINK https://www.cheknews.ca/broombuster-volunteers-battle-invasive-species-fire-threat-1154032/

    That said - there was a UBC Botanical Garden introduction of a low growing broom — I think it might have been called Thunderbird (for obvious UBC reasons)
     
  10. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor 10 Years

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