Hedge Trees

sujiwan_gwApril 10, 2010

I've been investigating which shrubs or trees might work for a clipped hedge in a winter windy site not to go higher than 6- 8 feet max. The hedged area is meant for a garden enclosure along the west side of the house that gets some shade along the more western edge from 2 trees and sun in the rest of the rectangle. Four potential hedge plants I investigated are carpinus betulus (hornbeam), some type of shorter manicured arborvitae, the taller yews and just for the look as it may be unsuitable: tsuga (hemlock).

The hemlock is said to be not as wind tolerant, though we are talking only part of the year where it is bad. It will work where there is shade cast by a pin oak and ash to the west, but there's the eastern aldegid problem.

I already have one or two broader foundation yews, so I know they'll grow. I've never tried to plant anything close to them (perennials or shorter shrubs), so I don't know if there is a problem with that.

There's an old style conical arborvitae which will come down as it obscures the windows--I know that type arb will grow. However, I have seen posts about people losing their Emerald arb hedges to brownout or having to wrap them for the winter indicating breakage or wind damage.(?) Too much trouble for a hedge if that is the case and maybe part of my area will be too shady.

Then there is the hornbeam said to work in sun/shade, be wind tolerant and able to grow in more areas than the beech. Why is it so popular in Europe as a hedge and not here? Is there something about the growing conditions required for either the American or the English varieties that rules it out for that hedging purpose here in the US? I'm having a hard time finding a place that sells them for hedging online.

What gives? Recommendations? Put in a fence?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

can you differentiate these two comments:

1:losing their Emerald arb hedges to brownout or having to wrap them for the winter indicating breakage or wind damage.(?) Too much trouble for a hedge ;

2: a clipped hedge in a winter windy site not to go higher than 6- 8 feet max.


trying to make you think a little deeper here ....

you are willing to clip.. perhaps twice a year.. a hedge at 6 to 8 feet ....

but wrapping them for winter is too much???

nothing really stops growing at some magical 6 or 8 feet mark.. so that means you will be out there on a ladder.. with hand clipper or electric machines... once or twice a year ... sounds really overwhelming to me ... but i am getting lazier as the years roll on.. [unless of course, you are 9 feet tall]

is there any chance of a picture of the area .. so we might be able to better understand what you are thinking about...

but for lazy old me.. if i had a budget.. a nice PVC fence .. which would require no maintenance ever.. might be better that a labor intensive nightmare .. though i may be a bit biased there.. lol


    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 10:52AM
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Yes it does sound inconsistent! LOL!

I guess what I'm saying is that it sounds like a fair number of people sunk money into a hedge that has the additional problems of dieback from the elements or which does not perform as well as claimed. I don't want to grow a hedge that needs to be babied *long-term* in addition to the required clipping and that will maybe need replacing in the future. I figure anything that grows tall enough and acts as a windscreen is probably going to have to be kept from achieving max size by regular pruning. I am, of course open to alternatives but I'm feeling like my choice of evergreen plant materials is somewhat limited.

Yeah, a PVC fence is probably simple, but would likely look out of place at this farmhouse but fencing remains an option.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 11:43AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I prefer bush rows to fences myself. If you're not holding in $2,000 bulls or the like with them.

Down by the street I have a collection of generic red twig dogwoods which seem content to grow ten feet tall then start spreading out. Not very formal by any means, but they have that neat winter bark, flower, and turn nice fall colors.

Bushes aren't my cup of tea though. I have planted some viburnums this year. I notice they're advertised to grow to all sorts of heights.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 1:41PM
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"I've been investigating which shrubs or trees might work for a clipped hedge in a winter windy site not to go higher than 6- 8 feet max."

What's the minimum? I ask because some types of Arborvitae don't get that tall. A row of Golden Globe, for example, might be cute. I believe Holmstrup arborvitae don't get as tall as Emerald Greens, and so might be a better match for you.

Does your area get a lot of snow? I've seen postings regarding Emerald Greens having more trouble if they don't have a single central leader, where snow burden is an issue. But then, they get around 12-14' tall, from what I've read, and I'm not sure how they'd look if you took hedgers and 'mowed' the tops off them. Once you cut an arb. back to the brown interior, from what I understand it doesn't put out new green there.

Do you WANT to clip this hedge for a geometrical formal look, or do you think you'll HAVE to in order to keep the size contained?

How long a hedge row is this to be?


    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 3:17PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

I've been looking for a plant for a similar purpose for several years now. While I still haven't made a decision, the leading candidate right now is winterberry.

Having dealt with an inherited hemlock hedge for a while, there is an enormous difference in clipping something you can do standing on the ground and clipping something that requires a ladder. The NPS used to care for an enormous hemlock hedge at the Roosevelt house with a cherry picker. My personal opinion is that is seems a perfectly reasonable way to deal with a ten foot hedge. However, since I don't possess a cherry picker, I've ruled out a tall clipped hedge. It's a maintenance nightmare I don't want to deal with.

Here, arborvitae and yew require serious protection from deer during the winter. I'd be very sure deer are not an issue before planting either unless you are willing to fence them in. Also here, almost any arborvitae is subject to crashing down during a winter storm. Whether they are single leader plants or not, the brittle ones are brittle.

Deciduous shrubs can grow to the right height, be deer resistant and not prone to winter breakage. But they are deciduous. Since part of my personal requirement for this screen is a high degree of winter interest, that's where the winterberry comes in. Another plant I've looked at fairly seriously are the large, old-fashioned, spreading, horizontal junipers, but they make me itch and I don't like them :(

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 3:36PM
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I would put the minimum at 6 feet. The roofline of my kitchen wing (which will provide the 4th wall of the enclosure) is maybe 9 feet from the ground so I want to stay below that. I'm looking to shelter plants inside the perimeter of the hedge.

I would say the area is about 30x20 that I'd like to incorporate. It's the narrowest part of a larger yard.

Well this year it was a humdinger of a snow year. I would guess usually we get between 33-40". I saw a similar post of looking for a central leader on those arborvitae. I was net surfing for ideas and saw arborvitaes done in a rectangular wall shape.

Everything I've planted so far has a very naturalistic style elsewhere in the yard. I was thinking I'd like an area that was different, more seemingly manicured. Does it have to be something I take the hedge clippers to? Not if the chosen hedge will fill in between the plantings to make a solid wind buffer. Most things I've found that will work would be oversized if not hedged and contained. I mean, there are some gorgeous boxwoods that grow lovely shapes and are dense but wouldn't like the sunnier part of the location or the wind and would grow terribly slowly to provide that desired buffer.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 3:41PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you said: the area is about 30x20

and you want something that gets 6 to 8 feet tall.. which usually means 6 to 8 feet wide.. so all of a sudden your space minus 8 feet all around is ...14 x 4... small room i suppose .... follow me??? ... a fence would cut what.. maybe 6 inches off each side .. for a nice room ...

PVC should come in a variety of styles to accommodate the look of your home.. i surely wouldnt get into a fence i would have to whitewash every year or two.. unless tom and huck live next door ....

it was also said: some types of Arborvitae don't get that tall.
====>>> conifers are rated based on growth rates .... and the problem with the ones that stay a reasonable height.. is that it might take them 10 or 15 years to get to that height ...

is there any chance we can get a picture????

hey? .. what about PVC lattice [though i suppose historically correct would be wrought iron.. talk about a budget] with clematis.. honeysuckle.. morning glories ... etc .... climbing roses ... why are you limited to conifers.. or trees???

maybe its time to think outside the box.... literally i suppose.. lol ...


Here is a link that might be useful: see chart about mini/dwarf/etc

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:49PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

historically .... the great hedge gardens were at manor houses that had either slaves .. or house servants to while away the days and months requisite in maintaining the look you want ...

ergo .... not many of the gentleman farmers of our heritage.. had time for such foo accoutrement ....

they may have queen anned the house.. and had a riotous cottage garden ... but they never went the Versailles route .... with the darn bushes out the front door ....

in other words.... hired workers can grow and maintain what you are contemplating .. but us homeowners.. usually.. just arent going to put up with what it takes on any grand style ...

just a theory ... wonder if it has any basis in reality .... lol ..


    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:57PM
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Well, you are bring up some very cogent points there Ken. It just seemed to me that the hedges I had been seeing on line made from those materials didn't that massive.
I was thinking something along these lines in the first picture and in some that are further down:

Here is a link that might be useful: Linkedrooms

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:36PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

at your link .... look 7 pix down under the caption Raised vegetable beds .. this is more what i was thinking ... the walls dont have to be blatantly obvious in time ....

listen .. if you can do that with the typed word.. i am JUST playing devils advocate .... stimulating the discussion and your project development.. i have no vested interest in the final decision ...

just keep in mind.. with the dimensions you noted... i presumed that that included the walls ... if you have another 20 acres... and can plant the plants to maintain the interior dimensions.. and have the hired help you can live your dream ... yada, yada, yada ...

i have the vague recollection that i visited somewhere .. like MAYBE longwood gardens or somewhere.. where they had two guys.. whose ONLY job for the season was maintaining the clipped hedges ... [or the rich guys house nearby ... a dupont.. or hearst castle ...] .. or maybe that manor house in the Carolina's ...biltmore .... and i saw it on TV ... who knows now... all i know was it struck me that i never wanted that kind of maintenance ...

anyway .. have a great day ..


    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 7:59AM
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