Question on tree or shrub selection

Discussion in 'Small Space Gardening' started by Daniel Mosquin, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The following was received via email:

    I live in an apartment in downtown Vancouver B.C. The strata has decided to plant a privacy hedge between the entrance walk and the terrace of one of the suites. We need to have an evergreen shrub or tree, that can be pruned at about 6 feet; no wider that 2 feet and that would not have an invasive root system as it will be planted right next to the sidewalk on one side and the building (foundation) on the other. Can you make any recommendations?
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hedge cedars would work - Pyramidalis or Smaragd - sun / part shade
    Wax leaf privet - Ligustrum - sun / part shade
    Columnar Irish Yew - Taxus - part shade to more shade

    these choices are limited by their exposure to sun, moisture availability etc...
     
  3. JimmyQ has hit the nail on the head, but one of the biggest problems in downtown Vancouver is the proliferation of little dogs, who, unfortunately, have to pee when their little baldders are full (or when they want to let other little dogs know where they've been). Perhaps the problem is with the dog owners, who don't feel it's a problem to let their dogs pee on shrubs.

    My recommendation is Thuja Occidentalis 'Smaragd' (emerald cedar), because it's much easier to replace once it gets large and doesnt really require pruning except at the required height. The better choice all 'round is Taxus xmedia (hybrid yew), because of its shade tolerance and shearability, but it's often very expensive and most strata councils balk at the cost down the road (even if they say otherwise now). If the area is shaded, go with the yew (and stay away from T. baccata 'Fastigiata' -- Irish yew -- which is naturally very narrow, but doesn't prune as well as the others; it almost always shows its vertical stems). If conditions were ideal -- well-drained, irrigated, moisture-retentive soil, full sun (north-south orientation) and no dogs -- almost anything would grow well. But...

    Another option is a cedar panel or other fence (2m height) with alternating screen panels (at 2m or so) replaced covered with an evergreen climber, such as Hedera helix (English ivy), which requires no irrigation to establish and grow, and which can also serve as the base for other more colourful, deciduous climbers. Stick with a fine textured ivy, like 'Baltica' or one of the birdsfoots, or one of the variegates, like 'Buttermilk' (which is admittedly larger) or 'Glacier'. Once established these evergreen ivies need to be nipped back only ocassionally. Speaking of ivies, there are hundreds to choose from, although garden centres are often not the place to find them. The fancy ones are generally sold as indoor plants, but they are perfectly hardy in Vancouver. Check your local supermarket for small-leafed ivies (usually in 10cm pots). The ivy thing can work extremely well, as a fence is obviously very narrow and requires much less maintenace than a hedge (watering, weeding, shearing, replacements, etc.). Stay away from chainlink fences, unless you can create a strong horizontal "cap" with timbers -- otherwise it'll look like you're in a gulag.
     
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! you said IVY......
     
  5. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    no offense but I have spent hours ripping ivy off of houses, trees , fences and other things that couldn't outrun it. Be wary with ivy, it has the potential to grow like crazy and take over. IF however it is maintained (trimmed) properly and regularly it may have some uses...... ( cop out qualifying statement so as not to incur any wrath from ivy lovers)
     
  6. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Well-Known Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sure I said English ivy. Like cobras, some kinds of ivy can be lovely if charmed effectively. The trick is to use the juvenile types, restrict their growth to where you want them (which is why I recommended alternate panels on a fence) and to shear them regularly. Have you ever seen flowers on Hedera helix 'Baltica', or 'Needlepoint', or 'Glacier'? Downtown Vancouver is not the pristine wilderness of south Surrey, either. I agree that plain old H. helix ought not to be sold; it's far too invasive.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2004
  7. We were recently studying ivy and other vines in my horticultural pruning class... the instructor warned against ivies as climbers, stating that they will shift from the juvenile form to the adult form when they are trained vertically. Once they become adult and produce berries, there's no stopping eager birds from spreading the seed far and wide to unsuspecting native areas where they are uncontrolled. Any feedback on this?
     

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