A few shrub questions

lisa2004(NY Z5/6)March 15, 2012

I have two different projects going on. First, we just built a deck which is in full sun. I'd like to landscape around it using boxwoods. I'm wondering if there is a variety that is a fast grower, or even a moderate grower. (I've read that boxwoods are very slow growing, not sure if that's true). Also, will they do ok in the sun? If not, is there a similar shrub that will?

Second, there is a shady area where I want to create a privacy hedge. I need a row about 110' long. The shade is caused by a variety of trees, mostly ash and maple. I wont be planting directly under them, but some roots may still be involved. I think I need something pretty tough. I'd go with something like privet or forsythia but I want it to be a dense, fast growing hedge. I'm not sure how either of those will do in the shade.

Thanks in advance for any help.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

seems like your options are limited to bigboxstore ... why???

forsythia is not going to bloom to specs in shade.. depending how deep the shade is ..

contact your county extension office.. and find out if they have any spring tree sales.. like mine do ... its a great way to offer diversity .. cheap ... and native ...

diversify your 110 feet.. do not plant all of one thing ...

you might want to use the search function up top.. for a bazillion of posts on boxwood ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 1:35PM
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j0nd03

I will offer "anything is better than boxwood" If you want a pretty shrub than can take a good shearing, is vigorous, and has flowers, check out chinese fringe flower. It would do fine in either of your situations. Just know if most trees/shrubs are planted in full shade they tend to get "leggy" growth. Ours in afternoon sun is gorgeous atm. We actually had a few name requests for it at a party last night :)

John

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 2:49PM
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samnsarah

Green Mountain boxwood is a faster grower than other boxwood varieties and can handle sun or shade. It gets to be about 5 feet tall. It may look good around your deck, especially if it is combined with some other shrubs and perennials.
I think Privet would make a beautiful privacy hedge. You may also consider some dense evergreen trees, such as Arborvitae 'Emerald Green'. This arborvitae is the only one I know of that can handle partial shade. One thing to keep in mind: those trees are going to take a lot of moisture out of the ground, so whatever you plant may need some sort of irrigation in order to thrive.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:00PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Boxwood isn't particularly slow growing. You'll want to stick with the koreana hybrids for hardiness, and IMHO it grows at a quite substantial clip. The problem you are going to have with the box is winterburn if they are in a sunny spot during the winter. Unfortunately that is going to be a problem with any broadleaf evergreen. Some type of conifer may be a better bet if the spot is sunny year around.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:04PM
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lisa2004(NY Z5/6)

Chinese fringe flower is beautiful. However, all the info I can find says that it's hardy to zone 7. I am just barely in zone 6 (I say barely because I was in 5 until they redid the USDA zones). I'm going to look at the boxwoods mentioned for around the deck. Thank you.

Ken: I'm adding this very poor pic (it's actually quite scary...I googled my address and this picture popped up). Anyway, this pic was taken from the position of the road. There is the line of trees, then my back yard. I want to block the view from the road, but since the bushes will be planted on the outer edge of these trees, they will be in an area that's not very visable from INside the yard. Therefore, I don't want to spend a lot of money. This is only about half the distance I need to cover. I couldn't get the entire length of my property in the picture. This is the only reason I'm limiting myself to the "big box stores".

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:18PM
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j0nd03

Well egg on my face, they are so darn hardy here I sure didn't think 1 zone would have made much of a difference! If you used to be zone 5 I would stick with zone 5 plants. The climate change doesn't seem to care about winter lows near as much as summer warmth... this past winter notwithstanding.

John

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 9:49PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

lisa2004: You're right to be concerned about the tree roots. From the photo it looks as if the trees are large and mature. Ashes have relatively benign roots, but maples, especially Norway or silver maples, are among the most aggressive trees in terms of depleting soil moisture and nutrients well beyond their branch canopies. This means you'll be dealing with both shade and rooty ground - a daunting combination. I think your best bet is to check with your County Extension Service or state agriculture department and see what recommendations they may have. Sorry to say, however, a privacy fence may well be a better investment of time and money than trying to plant 110 feet worth of anything under such difficult conditions.

I'd also agree that there are many better choices than boxwood. Even hardy varieties are subject to many diseases and pests and tend to break easily from the weight of snow. Then there's the cat pee odor of many types - not exactly what most people would want near a deck. There are many fairly low growing rhododendrons that might suit as well as other evergreen plants and conifers.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:08AM
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lisa2004(NY Z5/6)

OK, boxwoods are out. I had no idea that they smelled like cat pee! I really do want a fence but they are so expensive. Eventually I will probably do it though. So, one more question...I was looking at gray dogwood. Any opinions about it?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 1:22PM
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MollyDog(6 PA)

English boxwoods are the stinky ones

Here is a link that might be useful: Stinky boxwood info

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 5:22PM
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lisa2004(NY Z5/6)

OK, boxwoods are out. I had no idea that they smelled like cat pee! I really do want a fence but they are so expensive. Eventually I will probably do it though. So, one more question...I was looking at gray dogwood. Any opinions about it?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 4:02PM
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WendyB(5A/MA)

Viburnums would be great out by the road. They don't mind shade. Very low maintenance. Some will sucker and spread a bit, depends how happy they are. They can get big and cover a lot of real estate for you.

I have a lot of wild viburnums around my property's woods edge and they spread a lot. And they do provide screening from the road nicely. They bloom sparsely due to shade, but do make some blue berries in the fall that the birds love.

There are many wonderful viburnum species to choose from. Some types are susceptible to viburnum beetle damage, so you will need to do a little research.

Maybe you can also find a spot for a nice Hydrangea paniculata too to add a touch of showiness for the neighborhood. Just because you can't see it from inside the yard, its still nice to provide a nice aesthetic from outside looking in too. I have H. 'Little Lamb' on my outside and H. 'Limelight' and 'Quickfire' on the inside.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 11:09PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Can you give a bit more information? How far is it from the ditch to the trees? What direction is the photo facing; is your house due south of the road? Do the trees overhang the road or is some open sky overhead where you want to plant? The depth of the shade may make a difference of what you can grow there as well as how thickly it will grow.

A few others:
Generally what is your pH range?
Are deer a problem?
What is your goal here? Do you need privacy year round, or really just in warmer weather? Do you want to shelter your yard from car lights, viewing from the road, . . . ?
Would you consider also planting a few plants closer to your house to provide special shelter, such as sight lines into a window or to block sight lines to your new deck?
Are you OK with a mix of plants as opposed to a green wall of plants that are all the same in your hedge?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:44PM
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doinlaundry

Mollydog, I have never seen or heard that anywhere about stinky boxwoods, but I have always commented, "Those plants smell like cat pee!!" A friend recommended I plant them by the front door at our last house, and it took me forever to identify where the "cat pee" smell was coming from! I see them all the time by people's front doors......what a lovely first impression.....yuck! :P

    Bookmark   June 11, 2013 at 11:05PM
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