Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

What are some good hedge plants for this area?

Hedges are used to define spaces, create privacy and provide backdrops for other plantings. If there is enough space, they can also be used instead of fencing.

Site and exposure are important considerations when selecting hedge plants. Make sure the soil has good drainage, and select plants based on the amount of light they will receive. Be sure to allow enough room for the mature size of the plant, and select plants which will be attractive for more than just one season during the year. You can choose between evergreen or deciduous hedge plants. Deciduous plants loose their leaves in the winter.

For tall evergreen screening, use sun-loving junipers, the cultivars 'Canaertii' and 'Keteleeri' are good selections. You can also use hollies for screening. American holly, Ilex opaca, and the cultivar 'Foster' are good choices. These hollies will also adapt well to being pruned. Deciduous shrubs can also be good choices. Viburnums come in many sizes, from tall to medium, are shade-tolerant, and many have fragrant flowers. The blooms are followed by colorful berries which are attractive to birds.

Good medium-sized deciduous hedge are burning bush, Euonymus alata, which turns brilliant red in fall and is tolerant of sun or some shade, and some shrub roses, for example, 'Carefree Beauty' or the hedge rose 'Simplicity'. Other medium-sized choices include forsythia, northern barberry, deciduous holly winterberry (Ilex verticillata), and, of course, privet.

Medium sized evergreen hedge shrubs to consider are yew, oriental boxwood, inkberry (Ilex glabra), and the blue colored hollies. Low hedges, 3 feet or under, can be grown from the crimson pygmy barberry, Korean boxwood, dwarf spireas, glossy abelia, shrubby potentilla and roses, such as, 'Fairy' or 'China Doll'.

To establish a newly-planted deciduous hedge, such as privet, the plants need to be drastically cut back when planted, to encourage dense new growth at the base of the plant. During maintenance pruning, trim the top of the hedge more narrow than the bottom to allow light to penetrate to the base of the plant. This will prevent legginess.