3/22/2013 10:00:00 PM Column: Head-high hedges block what you don't want to see
Photos.com Cultivate tall hedges for natural privacy screens Ė but keep them at head-height so you donít block your view.
Courtesy photo Butterfly lavender is one of a mountain garden's easiest to care for herbs.
Ken Lain The Mountain Gardener
Spring weather has arrived in all its mountain glory and we gardeners are back to the great out-of-doors! Now that we can enjoy the vistas from our patios and decks, ensuring some privacy is important. If your landscape needs a privacy screen, this might be your year to get one started.
An unfortunate mistake many a homeowner makes is to plant a hedge that becomes massive within several years, overgrowing its space, obscuring walkways and even the entire front of the house. Also, screens taller than head high planted in the wrong place can obliterate vistas and obscure sunsets.
Today's column is dedicated to those plants that are easily maintained at head height, mostly with a minimum amount of manicuring. Because our arid Arizona climate causes plants to grow on the small side of natural, spacing is critical for a fast filling hedge. So, for a thick hedge, if the plant tag says your plant will grow 4-5 feet wide use the smaller of the two spacing numbers recommended.
Here is my list of the top seven performers that can grow into exceptional hedges in local landscapes.
Red-tipped photinia is the most common plant used as a tall hedge, even though this 12-foot-high evergreen requires a bit more maintenance
than other plants in this list. A ladder may be required to prune this hedge if left untended for very long, as well as making it too large for most properties. The new spring growth emerges red then matures to a waxy green leaf.
Glossy privet has the same look as the photinia but may be a better choice for a residential landscape. Growing to only 5-6 feet high, it forms a dark green, thick hedge. The waxy leaves retain moisture within the plant's structure so that the result is a low-maintenance hedge with low water needs, and fewer bug problems than its red tipped counterpart.
Mint julep juniper is the super hardy plant your grandfather used as a hedge, but with a more attractive color. The signature sea foam green foliage grows quickly to head high with little help and even less water. It forms a very thick hedge that requires infrequent trimming to keep it perfectly manicured. As northern Arizona is famous for its juniper forest, a juniper hedge blends right into the landscape.
Victory pyracantha is another old-fashioned plant perfectly suited to an 8-foot high hedgerow. It is surprisingly hardy and the fastest growing of the tall hedge plants. This plant has all the seasons covered for an interesting landscape; its thick glossy green leaves are small, its white flowers in spring form orange berries that birds dearly love. Long, vicious thorns will prevent unwanted visitors from coming or going through this hedge.
Gilt-edged silver berry is a new hedge plant with a native twist that rivals the manzanita. Bright gold edges highlight each bright blue leaf for a truly striking hedge. Planted at 4-foot intervals it will grow into a head high privacy screen so thick that no one would dare try to penetrate it. Investment property owners use this plant because it classes up a property's value but is hardy enough to withstand damage from the most abusive tenant.
Golden euonymous is the most popular of the hedge plants. Although its year-round bright gold foliage appears almost festive, this plant is tough as they come. An ideal hedge, it can be sheared or left to grow into a natural form dense enough to make a good visual and sound barrier. Look to the Silver King Euonymus for the same design element but in a silver cream color that is equally striking. For long hedgerows, feel free to combine the two varieties.
Oregon grape holly has several varieties that grow wild in the mountains of Arizona. With minimal care it grows quickly to a height of 6 feet. Once up to size this hedge can be cut off from all care except for very infrequent watering during the heat of summer. The gold flowers that cover this plant in early spring are followed by a grape-like berry that birds really enjoy. The leaves resemble English holly, but are well adapted to our wind and bright sun. It makes an excellent hedge to border driveway entrances and property lines.
Plant of the week is Butterfly Lavender. Purple flowers flutter above this herbal delight of fragrant silver foliage in an evergreen mound. This is the perfect plant for gardeners who want easy to care for flowers because they travel often, and/or share their yards with dogs, rabbits or javelinas. Surround this herb with heat, sun, rocks, and neglect to guarantee a happy lavender that keeps on blooming. It is in glorious flower right now, and that's enough to bring a smile to the face of any spring gardener.
Gardening class - It's almost time to turn on the irrigation systems in our landscapes. On March 30 at 9:30 a.m. Dan Croskey from Ewing Irrigation will be sharing his expertise on drip systems, setting timer clocks and proper watering schedules for local landscapes and gardens. Join me for this technical, but enjoyable and enlightening class.
Until next week, I'll see you at the garden center.
Throughout the week, Ken Lain is at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Road, Prescott, and can be contacted through www.wattersonline.com.
Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013
Article comment by:
Thanks for an informative article. In these times, when water is disappearing, and increasing in cost, it would be helpful to let readers know the water requirements of each of the attractive hedge options. The cost of the gardening class (if there is one) would be helpful as well.