For centuries, people have used shrubs and trees as part of their landscapes to create a type of privacy screen between themselves and their neighbors—something that especially comes in handy for those who live in unfenced neighborhoods. Whether you plant them for privacy or decoration, there are dozens of plants to pick from and several ways to implement them as a hedge.
Choose Hedge Location and Type
To begin, formal hedges involve the repetition of one plant type that are pruned to remain in bounds and properly shaped while informal hedges involve various plants and sizes. A mix might include flowering and nonflowering deciduous varieties along with evergreens (no matter the type, consider how much maintenance you’re willing to provide).
Find out if the planting site will be in the shade or sun, soil type, and water availability, noting the property line before starting anything. In fact, discuss this project with neighbors first, check with local ordinances if planting near streets, and note overhead and underground utilities. Planting space could also be difficult next to sidewalks or driveways—because tree roots grow laterally while seeking water sources, they might grow beneath the pavement, potentially leading to broken, uneven areas.
Spacing and Size
When choosing plants, decide based on the plant’s mature size and not the plant’s actual size when you buy it. Mature plant size includes width in addition to height, with width being crucial where property lines are concerned—no one wants a fight with their neighbor ten years from now over encroaching trees. Height is crucial for hiding undesirable views, but be wary because a moderately-large tree might still grow to a size that could damage your house. For hedges, plant slightly closer together than you otherwise would, but avoid overcrowding the plants, as this could affect their development and cut off sunlight and air from a yard.
Select Proper Plant Types
You’ll need either trees, shrubs, or a blend of the two, with growth rates you know and can manage. While the plants are developing, consider filling any gaps with ornamental grasses, taller perennials, or roses of hedge, shrub, rambler, or climber varieties—these temporary plants can be moved to a different location once the hedge starts filling in. Set the plantings in layers or stagger them to allow for eventual coverage. There’s always the option to buy mature plants as well—they cost extra but do provide more immediate relief.
It’s also worth noting deciduous shrubs and trees lose leaves in colder seasons while coniferous and broadleaf evergreens retain color and leaves all year, meaning evergreens might be the better choice for a privacy screen. A few common hedge plants include:
- Privet and boxwoods, which can maintain hedge form through consistent maintenance.
- Colorado blue spruce and Norway spruce, which work great as windbreak trees.
- Sweet olive, lilac, mock orange, and some ilex varieties offer fragrant hedges.
Quick-growing shrubs and trees can remedy privacy problems fairly quickly, but there are downsides. Rapid growth rates could lead to weaker branch and root strength, making the plants more susceptible to storms or wind. Plant options and growth rates might also vary based on which USDA Plant Hardiness Zone someone lives in. The growing environment, level of care, and plant variety could also affect growth rates.
Feel free to check out the Hipp’s Help store for any home improvement needs or supplies for projects. We offer FREE ship to store for all of Mountain View customers. And we also offer reasonable shipping rates for the rest of our customers throughout the country.
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