ZONE 5: Hedges for Privacy

homerunriotDecember 9, 2006

I'd like a live wall for privacy in my backyard. I've read that Thuja and Juniperus are good cultivars for my zone so I'm wondering if anyone has had success with them. They'd be planted facing North, ideally 5 or 6 so that they grow in and fill the space. The soil is mainly heavy clay which will need to be amended. Lighting is partial shade to full sun for 5-6 hours. Any feedback would be helpful.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

full sun is considered 8 to 12 hours per day .... with conifers.. it really matters ...

so we need you to be more specific ...

and ... how much space do you have... will it matter if in 5 years .. they are 8 or 10 feet wide at the base .... if you have a small yard ... you may have a screen and no yard ....

finally .. try privacy screen... or some such thing in the search engine up top near the annoying flashing banner .... in the space next to the red 'go' button ....

good luck


    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 8:40AM
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I am trying to find out about a privacy screen as well in zone 5 - IL. Also partial shade (some parts very sunny). I think I am going to do a mixed planting, of arborvitae (thuja), eastern red cedar (juniperus virginiana), which I have now and it seems to be doing well in semi shade, yew, which is good for semi shade (I also have those now) but those grow slow, barberries, viburnum (good for semi shade), and dogwood which is good for semi-shade I hear.
Maybe you should look into a mixed border.
I do know those green giants are that - giant. I would only plant those arborvitaes if you have a lot of room. Although there are narrower cultivars. Perhaps look on musser, and get some ideas on those cultivars.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 11:06AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

full sun is considered 8 to 12 hours per day .... with conifers.. it really matters ...

Lets not get carried away. If conifers were that desperate for direct sunlight all day then the north side of every tree would be defoliated! Most will grow in just an hour or two of direct sun, or with dappled shade, but you probably won't like the results. If you have 5-6 hours of full sun they'll do great. If that varies along the length of the hedge you'll notice differences in growth along the hedge, but it won't matter too much since I imagine you'll be trimming it regularly unless you want a 100' tall hedge :)

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 4:30PM
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Well, yes, I'd be trimming it regularly. Here's the problem and why I want a privacy fence. The property next door is a 2 unit building and our backyards are separated by a 4' chainlink fence. The 2nd floor's back porch is about 16' high, so even if I plant tall growing conifers, they may be able to see from their porch---- unless I build a pergola along the hedge and plant climbing vines, which I'd like to do down the road. On the other side of the building is a sidewalk (lots of foot traffic)and a very busy street. There is absolutely no privacy out back and I'm not thrilled that it's noisy, nor am I thrilled with the nosey "casual observers". I'm not trying to be anti-social I'd just like a space to entertain without entertaining neighbors and strangers.

The space is about 20-25' wide and it could take 4' -5' in depth. I was hoping to plant narrow conifers and trim them as they grow. My ideal hedge would look like P. Allen Smith's Garden Home's "Fountain garden". That is perfection. I'd be happy with 10'-15' tall hedges, neatly trimmed. I originally inquired about putting up a wooden fence and the city told me that it couldn't be higher than 6' (what's the point) but they can't restrict me if it is a live wall. Last year I saw $34.00 5' tall conifers at Lowe's and I regret not buying them. Is that a decent price?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2006 at 7:29PM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

A mixed hedge with some small trees for height might work well, too. I have both kinds of things separating my garden from those of my neighbors and I much prefer the mixed, which lets in some light, allows for blooming and berrying plants, and screens the view without acting like a brick wall. The mix includes dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, mockorange, rhododendrons, bittersweet (I could live without this one), viburnum and forsythia. The visual block isn't total, but it's easy to miss someone outside in the neighboring yards and it works especially well for two-story houses during the growing season.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 11:42AM
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leslies: "The mix includes dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, mockorange, rhododendrons, bittersweet (I could live without this one), viburnum and forsythia."

Thank you for the suggestion. When I researched each shrub/tree I came to the conclusion that most require much space and if I attempted to plant these varieties, I wouldn't want to plant them in a soldier straight row. Although I like your selection, I think this would reduce the space in my back yard tremendously. Also, I want more of a formal symmetrical look. Maybe like a row of Italian cypress. I basically have 20'-25' wide and 15' deep and that's why I figured shrubs/evergreens that are 4'-5' in depth (foliage) would leave me some room to build a pergola. Now, how much space do they take up in your yard? I read some require 15'-20' spacing! Wow. Not so sure that would work for me.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 8:53PM
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leslies(z7 No VA)

homerun, I would say they occupy a border that is between 4 and 8 feet deep, depending on where you're looking. My shrubs are not in a very straight line, but they do basically follow the property line. The small trees are tucked in between large shrubs so they kind of poke out the top. Also, while the mockorange, lilacs, forsythia and pyracantha (sorry, I misnamed this one - but I still don't like it!) and three dogwoods are mature, three rhodies, three redbuds, one viburnum, one witchhazel and one spicebush are not.

Since your garden is small, would it work if the pergola basically fills the garden? you could plant a few small deciduous trees on the outside edges - perhaps outside a walk around the outside of the pergola. Or even a large tree up through the middle. Or make the pergola narrow, but double - like two ladders side by side with a walk or border in the middle. Your privacy would come as much from the pergola(s) as the plants.

In any case, the tree canopy would take up lots of space, but it would be up in the air, without occupying people-space on the ground. Deciduous trees would allow sun in during the winter, too, as long as you didn't cover the pergola with a dense vine that blocks light all the time.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 8:41PM
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mckenna(Z5 Chicago IL)

The conifers you saw at Lowes are most likely arborvitae which is Thuja Occidentalis 'smaragd' or emerald green arborvitae. They would work fine for your requirements. You can usually get bigger ones around 8 feet or so at Home Depot or Lowes or Menards. They will stock tons of them every spring/summer. There are also several other conifers that would work but would be much more expensive and probably grow slower and would eventually get too wide for the space. When you shop for arborvitae look for ones with the fewest main trunks if possible. They have a bad habit of splaying open with the snow when grown with multiple trunks. You should tie them in the winter to avoid this. You also need to water them well that 1st year especially. There are better varieties of Thuja with better branching like Wintergreen or Hetz Wintergeen, but you will have to pay more for them and go to a real nursery vs. a big box store.


    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 3:46PM
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