Privacy hedge

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by glamourpuss, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. glamourpuss

    glamourpuss Member

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    Hi there I live in Nanaimo BC and live in a regular new subdivision that was built on a mountainside. Above me are houses that tower above and I was looking to create some good ( atleast some ) privacy. Leylandy Cypress grow fast and tall from what I have read. I would be planting the "privacy barricade" behind one of these allan block retaining walls with a fence set about another 3' behind. I would like the trees to grow in front of the fence but I certainly don't want the roots to push the wall over as the tree grows. At the narrowest point the distance between the fence and wall is 2'. Is Leylandy a good choice or are there others?
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    There are Leyland cypress down here with crowns 40' across. Maybe you need something like Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd' instead. Another very popular item.
     
  3. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    There's nothing worse than a cedar "hedge" that is pruned for a time but then let go. The multiple leaders continue to grow. They are trees after all, not shrubs.
     
  4. that dee girl

    that dee girl Member

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    The deer will make pretty quick work of Smaragds in Nanaimo, the Leyland Cypress is probably the better choice unless the deer can't get into your yard.
     
  5. glamourpuss

    glamourpuss Member

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    Thanks for the replies. My back yard is fenced off from those "eating machines". We are leaning towards the Leyland but are concerned about the overall size in the future. We are certainly interested in an evergreen screen / hedge for the privacy though. Of course we would like to have the privacy as of yesterday. Hence the Leyland interest.
     
  6. that dee girl

    that dee girl Member

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    glamourpuss,
    I have a mix of both but I know what you mean about the "eating machines" we call them "forest rats"! I have found that I can't buy decent sized Leylands anywhere but you can easily find 6' smaragds lots of place for less money than puny Leylands. Let me know if you find any bargains, I need a few more.
     
  7. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    How about yew/taxus? They take pruning well, and they provide a beautiful dark-green background for all other garden plants?
     
  8. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    I second the Yew. I have just spent a couple of thousand dollars removing a Leylandii (Cupressocyparis leylandii) hedge & cursed it over the years previous. You may want to consider the growth habit of "Cedars" used in hedging. They will only regrow from young growth with green foliage. Thus, no matter how closely you prune them (scalp them if you wish) they inexorably get bigger. Yew will sprout from mature wood & can be maintained at a given size over time. How much time? I believe there are Yew hedges in the UK that are 200+ years old. 25 years is about max for a Leylandi hedge in my experience. BTW some areas in the UK have banned Leylandi - and it doesn't grow as fast there as it does here!

    ...as you may have gathered I am "off" these plants...for ever I suspect.

    gb
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Another problem with the cypress is due to the fast growth most specimens purchased will have root deformities resulting from them having been left in containers for too long at some point. This can result in toppling later, when the tops get heavy enough to pull the trees over. Where deformities are bad enough these may go over early in the game. Or there may be years of growth, and then failure when the crowns are big, heavy and able to crush things in their path.

    Root-bound nursery stock is pandemic anyway, when an item is fast-growing it is almost guaranteed to arrive at the retail yard in this condition.
     
  10. glamourpuss

    glamourpuss Member

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    For "Yew" people (hahaha) are we talking about the english yew taxus baccata? or are there other preferred ones? I think I saw online that they are only columnar is this the case?
     
  11. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Irish yew (and related forms) is columnar. Typical wild-type English yew (and its cultivars that share this characteristic) is spreading. Hicks yew produces an intermediate, vase-like growth and is prevalent on the market. But it is not such a deep green as English yew.

    Like 'Smaragd', yew is slow. That's nearly always how it is: the types that make an appealing mature hedge may take quite some time to get there. Quick hedges are liable to become big, sloppy and overwhelming.
     
  12. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    The Yews I see most often around the Lower Mainland are Hick's Yew (Taxus media x hicksii...or something like that) for sure. I persuaded a Strata to install them about 4 years ago (18" at planting) they are now almost 6 feet & luverly! A foot a year - not bad. Yes, slow compared with Leylandi, but a classy hedge not your typical "spec house" stuff.
     
  13. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Some strategic planting of individual trees and shrubs within the yard may provide privacy. A huge house is being built next door to us, so we will be trying to figure out how to get some privacy without shading our garden too much.
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yes: Installing straight, riveted-looking rows of narrow-growing shrubs or trees is not the most cost-effective - or even visually effective - way of screening out unwanted views - or viewers. Often it is possible to see right through single-row hedges, even when these are of some age - especially when looking in from a moving vehicle. And as with other formal effects, if one or more of the hedge plants grows more slowly than the others - or dies - an eye-catching gap or hole results.

    One 'Smaragd' or Leyland cypress planted right after the other in close succession can really add up quickly, even when bought cheaply at a big box store. An informal grouping of a few (or less) specimens of various natural habit (broader growing) trees and/or shrubs is likely to cost significantly less (unless purchased in quite large sizes and/or including expensive types like grafted Japanese maples) and may often be much more effective.

    In many areas here the cypress - eventually a tall tree everywhere unless sheared - grows so broadly one or two could be planted where multiples have instead been used. In Victoria, for instance there are some that look quite like the Monterey cypress parent. Broad, comparatively open growth is also usual in Seattle. Elsewhere in this region the habit is dense and nearly columnar, as is often the case in Britain - where some photos used on nursery picture cards displayed here may have been taken! (Some stock offered locally has also been sheared to produce artificial cigar-like shapes).

    Purchasers should be aware that, depending on where a planting is being undertaken, the narrow habit shown in photos or produced by shearing at the production nursery may not be produced or maintained by a planting. As in Britain there seems to be an association between precipitation and growth behavior of these (and other cypress family conifers), the more rainy areas producing more narrow and dense crowns.

    Except there a general pattern that has been observed is of growth tightening as you move west, into the wetter (but milder) parts most influenced by the Gulf Stream. Here, the trees start to look clipped as you head inland, into rainier but also colder districts - and the outer coastal area does not show the phenomenon of the trees becoming tidier as you move farther west at all.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2010
  15. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    Yep. Then if you have to take it out - like me - you are staring at your neighbours again for a few years after.

    We use line-of-sight planting on the front of our property & the loss or forced removal of a tree or shrub is annoying, but not a big deal.

    This is becoming an anti-hedge thread LOL!

    gb.
     
  16. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    And remember than roots do go in all directions even if the shrub or tree is columnar.
     
  17. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

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    You might try sitting or standing on your patio and look in the direction that you want to screen. A small 20-25' tree planted close to the patio would probably be more effective than a hedge on the upper perimeter. Even better a pergola with vines or temporarily shades, top and sides would provide a sense of enclosure. You could even "wall" it in with translucent plastic panels like shoji screens for year round privacy that still lets the light through. For the price of a hedge of plants you could have a stylish, attractive year round architectural element in your garden without the added work of maintaining a hedge. If you are bent on the hedge, go with the yew. You are lucky it's hardy for you.
     
  18. glamourpuss

    glamourpuss Member

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    Thanks for the insight. We are excited to look at the Yew more. I have put 2 phots in. One looking left and the other right from the house. The guy right behind has planted some cedars so we may not have to. We would still like some good evergreen trees/ shrubs all year round to look at and to create some privacy. Our yard is young so patience may be our best effort and the hedge maybe too much of a wall.

    We do have a couple of trees close to the patio edge. They look like they are in pots but they are not. They will create privacy sometime. Right behind the playhouse is really quite wet so we are looking for something to go there as well.
     

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  19. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I have been putting in trees for privacy between my neighbors and myself, as well. I chose to create a hedgerow composed of a mixture of evergreens for the "backbone." Interspersed are some deciduous trees. I chose this route because I, too, hate the look of an unhealthy or poorly maintained hedge. Further, I like the idea of biodiversity. Selfishly, if some new pathogen comes around I would hate to have a row of whatever that new thing liked to eat. Unselfishly, I hope that by offering multiple types of trees to my micro-environment I am providing wildlife habitat. Getting to see the birds flitting around is a personal bonus, too. Moreover, I think the overall effect is just prettier. At the very least, I find it more interesting. I don't know if my choices would work for you, but so far, this is what I have put in for growing conditions in NW Washington (try not to snicker at the less than technical terms and descriptions):

    Tall and/or pointy
    Columnar Yew (the berries are pretty and I hope the wildlife will appreciate them)
    Mountain Hemlock (love the color and texture)
    Blue Heaven Juniper
    Weeping Sequoia (love this one, call it my Dr. Seuss tree)
    Leland Cypress (what can I say, it was cheap - in retrospect, if I were to put in a Leland I would put in one of the yellow versions)
    Pinus parviflorae 'Elf' (I love this tree, cool upright shape, pretty blue-green color, but mine is struggling and I don't know why. The one that was next to it at the nursery is still there and looks happy as a clam)
    Italian Cypress
    Columnar Blue Spruce

    Round or spreading
    Weeping White Pine (this tree has been knick-named Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree, but I've seen a mature ones and I know it will fill in beautifully. One of my favorites because, in addition to the blue-green color, I can control its eventual height by merely ceasing to stake it further. I'm thinking one more year and it'll be just tall enough that I don't see the top of the neighbor's house but it will still let in some sunlight)
    Arbutus unedo (AKA Strawberry Tree - this broad leaf evergreen is slow growing and spendy, but I ADORE the red berries in the winter)
    Arbutus marina (this broad leaf evergreen was less expensive than the Strawberry Tree and I like its string of little flowers, but also slow growing)
    Southern Magnolia 'Timeless Beauty' (another broad leaf evergreen - I chose this particular one because the leaves don't have the brown on the underside that, to me, can make a S. Magnolia look sickly even when healthy. Further, this one shouldn't get as tall as some others and blooms at a young age. Plus, I like the big, green, yellow-green leaves contrasting with the other greens and green/blues. Finally, I'm not sure if this is accurate, but I read somewhere that the root system of this cultivar is less invasive than some of the other Magnolias)
    Southern Magnolia 'Little Gem' (while this one has the brown on leaf undersides, I put it in a location that needed privacy but also needed a tree that wouldn't get too tall - I don't want to give up my sunlight. Plus, I got a smoking deal and it's already big and flowering)
    Cherry Laurel (this tree was already present and large - beware, I've been told once you put in a Laurel you'll always have one, whether you want to or not)

    Short and/or fat
    Spreading Yew (don't remember the real name, a sale impulse buy for contrasting color/texture)

    Interspersed between them there are some evergreen leggy things with red berries that were here when I bought the house. Plus, some Frisia. And between my backbone and my house I put in a variety of Japanese Maples, to which I am addicted)

    Hope my list can give you a jumping off point. I'd be interested to hear/see what you end up putting in the ground.
     
  20. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

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    Thanks for the photos, Glamourpuss. You would need a 40 foot hedge to screen out the neighbours view from their windows, a maintenance nightmare and you probably wouldn't be popular with the neighbours and your whole yard would be full of roots.

    I think you'd be better off with a canopy of smallish trees 20 to 30 feet with graceful form all year that would provide shade and privacy from above around your sitting area/s during the months that you are out in the garden. That would leave you sunny areas to grow sun lovers like roses, etc and shady areas for hostas and early bulbs. You could have some shapely conifers like the yew or Alberta spruce to provide some winter interest in the garden without having the chore of pruning an endless hedge and dealing with endless clippings.

    I'd forget about a hedge. The neighbour has put in a line of green above. Take advantage of the root free zone you have below. If that is a south facing wall you have a lot of choices depending what your soil is. You could put your vegetable garden here, the tomatoes would benefit from the heat from the wall, grapes would love it, peaches, nectarines, etc. If not fruit and vegetables, think about broadleafed evergreens, or evergreen climbers, clematis armandii blooms early and smells like orange blossom, as well as coniferous evergreens. I'm not sure what zone Nanaimo is especially at some elevation but you might be able to grow such beauties as Carpenteria californica - dark green evergreen leaves with fragrant white anemone like flowers with a golden boss of stamens. Envy.

    You could buy one of those marquee like tent structures from Cdn Tire for some temporary privacy and shade on your patio or deck while you decide on the best design for more permanent arbours and pergolas. Those are perfect for those people who live in cities where the gardens are overlooked by apartments on all sides. As to pergolas and arbours, there are no shortage of inventive solutions to be found in older neighbourhoods on Vancouver Island and around Vancouver.

    I like the suggestion above about having a variety of trees and shrubs. It's worth taking the time to research what you like and what would thrive in your conditions. It makes gardening a lot easier.
     
  21. johnnyjumpup

    johnnyjumpup Active Member

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    How about an Acer rubrum behind the playhouse? Brilliant red colour in fall.
     
  22. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    To serve native birds best to plant native species of trees and shrubs. Magnolias do not produce invasive roots. 'Little Gem' is prone to breakage and mildew in western WA.
     
  23. winterhaven

    winterhaven Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    I think so, too.

    I know of only a few broadleafed evergreens trees (Arbutus, Southern Magnolia), so I was really happy to see your suggestion of Carpenteria californica; it's one I hadn't heard of before and looks like it's on the edge between large bush and tree sized (to my mind's eye).

    I agree, that if feeding the wildlife is the only concern, then native trees and/or shrubs are best. I chose what I chose for a balance of reasons. And even if the evergreens are not providing food, the birds love flitting around in my trees. Although, I was under the impression that the yew trees were bird friendly as habitat and as food. Are they not? Also, birds aren't the only life. Bees really like the Arbutus trees; I imagine they are similar enough to the native Madrone. Are the strawberry tree berries not winter food offering for birds? The bees also like some of the deciduous shrubs (some native, some not) that provide little screening.

    I was quite surprised to read that. On what do you base this statement?

    Good to know, thanks for the heads up. So far, it's been in the ground in a protected location for almost two years and no problems yet. I'll definitely keep an eye on it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  24. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    If you plant ribes sanguineum, you may get to see some hummingbirds visit your neighbourhood.
     
  25. glamourpuss

    glamourpuss Member

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    To everyone thank you very much for all the great info.

    In the forefront of the second photo from my earlier post, on the edge of the patio, is a Japanese Stewartia and next to it (middle of the patio) is a Katsura. The previous owner dug up another balancing out Stewartia from the far patio corner (behind the playhouse) because of the wet conditions. Is there anyway to dig in the original hole and add drain rock or sand etc so that we can replant the second Stewartia back into its original spot? This is a free plant fix and would be great and along the lines of what "Johnny" was getting at for privacy around the patio. Right now the second Stewartia is planted in an out of the way spot.

    "Johnny" as for the pergola idea which probably in the future plans, here is a photo of what we did at our old house 2 doors up the street. Yup we moved 2 doors down the street. The pergola/deck etc we DIY'd helped a great deal and we miss it a lot. Soooo relaxing to sit out in the summer sun.

    "Winter" your ideas are what we we were thinking as well. We just would like everything to speed grow. :)!!


    Thanks again all. TGIF!
    Cheers!
     

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