Narrow, tall hedge for screening - no pines or arborvitae

hennen(6b Detroit, Michigan)March 30, 2012

We want to plant a privacy hedge. Our requirements:

* At least 12 feet tall.

* Would prefer to keep trimmed into a solid wall no taller than 12-14 feet.

* As narrow as possible -- only 2-3 feet wide if possible, but can go wider if we have to.

* Evergreen, but we don't like the look of pine trees or arborvitae.

* 35 feet long.

* Part of hedge would have full sun, part would be partially shaded a few hours a day.

* Soil is very sandy (can amend if needed).

We really like the look of holly, and Sky Pencil seems the closest to our requirements but it probably won't get tall enough (only 8 to 10').

We had a bamboo guy come out and he recommends Green Grove which matures at about 15ft, but we're concerned with containment, even with the "DeepRoot Bamboo Barrier" he would add to 22" deep.

Does anyone have recommendations on any other types of shrubs we might consider?

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I would recommend a Skyrocket Juniper. It grows up to 15' x 2-3' wide. Hardy in zones 4-9.
You also might consider putting up a 12' high chainlink fence and then growing some dense evergreen or semi-evergreen vines on it.
Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sooner Plant Farm

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:22PM
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hennen(6b Detroit, Michigan)

I should add Juniper to the list of plants we don't like :) I don't know the right term, but we don't like the looks of arborvitae or juniper or similar.

We can't build a fence, trellis, etc. higher than 6 feet near the property line. Otherwise we love vines and would be doing something like that in a heartbeat.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:49PM
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I don't know the right term, but we don't like the looks of arborvitae or juniper or similar.

I'd interpret that to mean you don't care for needled evergreens, aka conifers :-) That's going to limit your choices considerably as very few broadleaved evergreen shrubs - like the holly - will achieve the height/width you want and are going to be sufficiently hardy for you. And a whole bunch of conifer choices would (some with shearing).

It may be your best option is the bamboo. FWIW, it should be quite successfully contained with a proper root barrier properly installed but a manual root trim around the border on an annual basis will keep spread very much in check.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 8:05PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Just want to say that bamboo is a nightmare unless you don't mind it spreading (I have heard of clumping bamboo, but don't trust that it really won't spread eventually). It is pretty much impossible to contain. I don't know what kind of barrier that is, but if there are any seams that are the least bit weak, the bamboo will get though. It took me 10 years to get rid of the bamboo in our yard (PO planted it). It will return at some point since it got into the woods behind the yard. It killed several small trees (blocked light and took all water and nutrients I think) and everything else in the yard where it was. I am still trying to restore the garden to a native woodland space. I have heard horror stories of it breaking through concrete. A copper barrier might work, but that will be very expensive and you do need to dig down two feet or the roots will just go under and around it. Any other barrier material will not be effective from my research and I have done a lot. One landscape architect's response to my question of how to get rid of it was "Move!"

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:45PM
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There is really no need to be alarmist about using bamboo, either clumping or running forms. If bamboo is properly contained with a barrier made for that purpose, it is just as manageable and no more of a nightmare than any other plant. That does not mean you can just plant and forget it.....nor should you do that with just about anything else planted in your garden. Everything takes a certain amount of routine maintenance.

FWIW, commercial bamboo barrier is not made of copper but of heavyweight plastic sheeting at least 60 mil thick. Joints are overlapped by a generous amount (6+ inches) and sealed using manufactured metal joint fasteners or a tape made for that purpose. You can certainly use sheet metal or similar (heck of a lot cheaper than copper(?)) as long as you address the joint closure properly. Running bamboo escaping a barrier system just speaks to improper installation of the barrier and lack of routine maintenance.

And clumping bamboo is just that - a well-behaved, clumping, tall ornamental grass. No running, no taking over and no need for physical containment.

FWIW, we grow and sell a lot of bamboo, both running and clumping, in my area and I use it extensively in my landscape designs. It makes an excellent, narrow yet tall evergreen privacy screen. Absolutely no problems have turned up if the right bamboo was chosen, the proper barrier system used and correctly installed and adequate maintenance provided.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 1:44PM
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Try Henry Field's Seed & Nursery Co. under shrubs,hedges,and grasses find "tallhedge". Gurney's also has them sometimes. I have had mine for 15 yrs. Not an evergreen, grows 10ft - 12ft tall and 3ft wide. Best of all I have never had to trim them.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:09PM
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Clumping Bamboo or properly contained/installed Bamboo sounds like a good choice. My concern with trying something like a tall/slender holly would be snow damage. Don't you get a lot of heavy snow? I would think that snow damage on the Bamboo would be easier to manage (will either spring back or damaged canes would quickly be replaced by new growth).

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 5:13PM
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