British Columbia: Yew or Cedar hedge on south facing planter?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Jen YVR, Nov 16, 2022.

  1. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    Hi all, I'm looking for some advice on what best to plant in an 18 foot long south facing planter surrounding our condo's patio in Vancouver BC.

    We're debating between yew hicks or emerald cedars in this planter. The patio is south and west facing, so our big slab of concrete gets HOT during the summer. The planters surrounding our patio are common property, and behind a railing so we don't have easy access for maintenance and are at the whim of the landscapers. They usually come a couple times in the spring and summer to tidy up. (Our strata is okay with us planting anything that's fairly low maintenance) There's sprinklers on a schedule we haven't figured out yet. We have some yews on the opposite side that didn't do too well this summer. The tops are all singed but not sure if cedars would have fared better.

    Many thanks
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    How wide is the planter? What is the maximum width the hedging plants can be allowed to grow? What is the soil like in the planters and how deep is it? Do you have a photo?
     
  3. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    This planter is about 39" wide, 18 feet long, and 18" tall. The soil, I'm not sure, but it's probably quite depleted. It looks very low right now, it doesn't look quite half full. We'll ask the installers to add some soil when they come install the trees.
    Attached are a couple of photos of the planter area in August and now, in November.
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    How tall do you want the new green wall to be?
     
  5. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    I think the landscapers will likely trim them to about 4-6 feet tall, like with the rest of the building. I don’t have too much say on this.
     
  6. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    A couple of thoughts

    do yew trees have toxic (tempting for kids or perhaps dogs) berries — I think red color like a Holly berry — looks like Candy to our young friends (we lived nr a family dr office with these planted in expensive containers outside — they removed the plants)

    2. Fire hazard — if any candles or smoking any product is permitted on your area — reconsider the cedar

    it literally goes up in smoke in dry months (even cold dry months in Okanagan

    are you allowed buxus (boxwood)?
     
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  7. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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  8. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts and links.

    This particular section is pretty inaccessible so the yews, in terms of toxicity, wouldn’t be a big concern. Our condo does have them everywhere though and there are lots children and dogs here but it would be really prohibitive to replace them all I imagine.

    Wow I haven’t heard of cedar hedges in the Lower Mainland being a fire hazard, but noted. If they’re more heat sensitive maybe we will get yews.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you don't have much say then maybe drop out of the debate and let the other people do what they are apparently going to do anyway. Otherwise 'Hicksii' and 'Smaragd' are both genetically programmed to grow multiple times larger than 4-6 ft. And it does not work to try and freeze the size of a hedge in place with shearing.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2022
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  10. Margot

    Margot Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    A beautiful shrub that would grow well in that planter is Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). It is evergreen with lovely colouring especially in spring and fall. Does well in sun or shade. The black berries are delicious and attract birds (though not as many I would have thought). It might take a few years for one-gallon plants to reach 3 feet in height but it is worth the wait in my opinion. If they get bigger or bushier than you prefer, they are very easy to prune back. It is a BC native plant that deer don't eat - not that that's an issue for you - but just another reason why this is my favourite shrub, native or introduced. See: Great Plant Picks: Unbeatable Plants for the Maritime Northwest Garden and many other websites.

    The shrub in my photo is 10 years old
    now and easily 6 - 7 feet tall.
    Photo taken in December last year.
    Vaccinium ovatum 12-2021 (2).JPG
     
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  11. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    Interesting, I didn’t know, I just see this done to the yews around our condo. The debate on what to plant is mostly with myself, our strata would be content with the overgrown weeds since it’s only around our patio. The building will just maintain it. I’m just hoping for something that will do well and I won’t need to bother our strata for again.
     
  12. Jen YVR

    Jen YVR New Member

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    Interesting, thanks, I’ll look into this!
     
  13. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    There are some nice planter condo terrace with TALL NARROW boxwood in them down in Yaletown near the roundhouse

    i think it’s the south end of the north-south street that merges on to Pacific (east end of Davie?)

    on a street with leaf prints in concrete (yes that’s a helpful clue on autumn!)

    there are short black attractive railings that boundary the small patio outside the street level condos at base of high rise

    it would be worth a look if you’re in the neighbourhood

    i am sure UBC near Save-On likely has same (near the White Barn, too)
     
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  14. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The red part of Yew cones ('berries') is edible and sweet, but the seed inside is toxic, if chewed. A dog swallowing one, the seed would likely pass straight through unbroken. Not sure if the Human stomach is powerful enough to release the toxin from unchewed seeds or not, but I wouldn't advise trying! When I eat them, I always remove the seed first. However, clipped Yews very rarely produce any cones, so it isn't something to worry about in this context.
     
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  15. AlainK

    AlainK Renowned Contributor Forums Moderator Maple Society 10 Years

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    Why not Lonicera nitida ?
     

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