I'm getting ready to plant about 15 holly bushes along my fence row and
I've been checking out bushes in the neighborhood to get ideas about
what type I want to get. I've noticed that some of the hollies stay
nice and thick at the bottom with no gap and you can't see their trunks
because of the nice growth close to the ground. Others I see are thick
with growth once they get about 6" off the ground and they are bare
around the bottom of the trunk.
Does anyone know how to keep the growth thick all the way to the ground
so that you can't see the trunk? I really prefer the way they look when
the leaves are flush with the ground.
This applies to all bushes with dense growth.
Plant them at least two feet from the fence so that some light reaches
the bottom of the plant on the fence side.
When you trim them, make the tops more narrow than the bottoms; the tops
should not shade the bottoms.
A sheared bush should look like this:
It should not look like this:
Thanks for the diagram! That helps!
The fence we are trying to cover is chain link so we are hoping that
the hollies will grow through it a bit to hide it from both sides.
I read something that said if you plant them too close together that
they can develop this leggy look. Does anyone know if this is true?
We really need the bushes to merge and form a hedge as quickly as
possible, but we don't want to plant them so close together that they
We're still trying to decide between Needlepoint and Nellie R Stevens.
Any thoughts? Whats the absolute closest you'd plant these type
We have had a few varieties of American holies about. Dr. Kasab
which I had to remove was attractive. I'd suggest not planting in a
straight line but in a staggered v formation about 5 or 10 feet away
from your fence. Early on perhaps some other species in the gaps like
Think V's and inverted v's. inverted v's half size in crude diagram.
10 5 10 5 10 5 feet
Hope not too confusing!
Located In S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
This article is posted under fair use rules in accordance with
I have dwarf Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii Nana') forming a
solid mass planted 2 ft apart.
According to Sunset, 'Nellie R Stevens' is a cross between Chinese holly
(I. cornuta) and English holly (I. aquifolimn). It will grow 15-20 ft
tall and 10 ft wide. To make a solid hedge, plant about 5 ft apart. To
improve the setting of berries, plant a Chinese holly nearby for cross
I can't find 'Needlepoint' in my copy of Sunset.
Planted as a hedge, there will be some die-back between individual
plants. That should not be noticeable except when the hedge is sheared
or individual plants are severely pruned.
If your neighbor is agreeable, plant the hedge right against the chain
link fence, to grow through it. Both sides of the hedge will get enough
sun. However, if your neighbor moves away, be sure to talk to your new
neighbor promptly. Obviously, the goal should be to have a good,
secure, durable fence that no one sees because it is so hideous. Thus,
a new neighbor (if approached correctly) should agree to keeping the
If you want a sheared hedge, plant in a straight line about 2-3 ft from
the fence. However, constant shearing will reduce the crop of berries.
For an informal hedge that is trimmed only on occasion, mark a line
about 2 ft from the fence. Then stagger the plants, alternating 2 ft on
either side of the line. The resulting zigzag will not be pronounced,
but there will be a pleasing irregularity. The plants that are 4 ft
from the fence will still grow through the fence.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I mean two-foot centers. That is, the center of each planting hole is
two feet from the center of the adjacent planting hole. Yes, real
close. Remember, these don't grow full size. They are under our
livingroom window. After all, we want to look out the window.
To the left is a more open planting of dwarf Rhaphiolepis indica.
Elsewhere against the front of the house and along one property line are
dwarf Syzygium paniculatum (eugenia). The idea is to avoid overwhelming
a relatively small front yard.
Three individual (not a hedge), full-sized Rhaphiolepis are at the
sidewalk. On the other side of the driveway is a large rosemary (taller
than I am). There are also several trees. But they are either narrow
(Podocarpus) or have no low branches.
For a verbal tour of my garden, check my gardening Web pages.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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