Hedges, Border, Screen and Background Planting in Home Landscaping

Close clipped hedges of various heights give a trim air to a suburban home whether used across the front of the yard, and at each side of a path to the doors, or whether used as a boundary hedge between neighboring yards. For a high hedge in such cases, or in cold climates the hardy Amur privet is useful and Regel’s privet, Ilex crenata rotundifolia, Korean box, or alpine currant, Ribus alpinus, are useful for lower hedges. The latter is called the “boxwood of the north” because it endures severe climates but can be sheared like English box, has fine leaves and takes deep shade under trees where no other hedge plant will thrive.

Russian olive

Arbor-vitae, hemlock, Hick’s yew and Cannart juniper make dense high evergreen screens or backgrounds for any area, such as the rear boundary of a backyard behind a garden, where privacy is desired, and can be clipped or not. The yew and juniper will tolerate city conditions of soot and smoke. For a windbreak, Russian olive is advised. Japanese barberry has thorns to keep out intruding animals. Dwarf ninebark (see foundation planting chart) and pussy willow would grow compact enough to do the same. All three are attractive. For flowering hedges of medium height, see the items starred in the corner shrub chart. Some of them, like Weigela Vanicecki and Spirea Vanhouttei, may grow too wide for hedging a small yard. Multiflora rose is often sold for a suburban hedge but is best suited to large-scale rural property. Floribunda roses ranging from the pygmy red and gold ones, only one foot high, to the many varieties three feet high, make excellent border and edging plants. Around a low brick porch, try Pachistima canbyi or crimson pygmy barberry. Deutzia or blue leaf arctic willow are handsome as a border along a flagstone path to the door.

Distances Apart for Hedge and Border Planting

It makes sense to ask the dealer who sells you hedge material how far apart to plant it, because this varies with the size of the young specimens you buy, and depends on whether you are planting one row or two staggered rows, and whether you plan to let the bushes grow naturally or to keep them clipped to grow dense.

Dooryard Ornamentals for Accent

An ornamental small tree somewhere along the path to a front or side door adds a welcoming note. For this location, choose trees with slender trunks and branches that do not come down to the ground and obscure the vista from the street.

Another place to accent is the driveway, either where it turns in from the street or along one side of it, allowing ample room for the spread of the tree. Another good focal point for an erect shrub like the common lilac is near the corner of the front dooryard. You may like at any of these situations the striking, low spreading shrub Euonymus alatus compactus. It has year-round interest, with yellow flowers in May, pinky crimson fall foliage color, reddish-purple seed capsules and unique winged cork bark as a winter attraction.

Consider selecting four ornamentals for accent, one for each season. Try red-bud or saucer magnolia for spring, a flowering crab or cherry for Maytime display, a styrax, albizzia or tamarix for midsummer thrills, plus a climbing everblooming rose over a low fence near the front entrance or along a path. A red maple can enliven the scene until winter, and a white clump birch will serve as a beacon the year around with its white bark.

by M Goldsmith

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