The most common plant for this purpose in zone 5 is arborvitae. (Thuja sp)
If the soil is right for them, some people also plant hedges of tightly
growing trees, such as blue spruce, which usually keep branches down to the
ground - they can be sheared to keep them low and thickly growing. I think
it might also be possible to plant hedges of juniper virginiana, a native
tree juniper of the east and midwest. These can also be sheared to be lower
than their normal height of 20 feet plus.
Another question. I just bought this house in September and the previous
owner planted six pear trees where I want to put the Arborvitae. I believe
they are dwarf varieties and while they are small at the moment, a couple
were bearing fruit last year. Would the pear trees survive being moved, and
when would be a good time to move them? Would winter when they are dormant
be the best time? It's mild now with high temperatures in the 40s and 50s.
If the ground freezes around here it usually does not stay frozen for long.
This is still a good time of year to move the pears. It is not so much
whether the ground is frozen or not that deterimes winter to be best time
to plant.move trees, but the fact that there will be both a reduced workload
on the root system ( no leaves to feed) and consistant moisture in the
ground ( no as much worry about constant watering).
So far as good screening shrubs, there are literally dozens to choose from,
including the ones that Presly mentioned.
Arborvitae are wonderful, but since they are a tall NARROW shape, you will
need more to cover the same amount of fenceline. Spruces (Picea) are good
.. they cover more fenceline BUT they will take longer to fill in. I have
seen White Pine used for very long hedges, but they get HUGE ( as well as do
There are many Hollies that will do well... i.e. Illex Merservae ( i know..
poor spelling) Var. "Dragon Lady" can grow to 20 ft tall x 8-10 feet wide
and has these really SHARP needles on the leaves to deter trespassers.
With all these choices, you have to ask yourself these questions:
How FAST do you want the screening effect?
How BIG do you want the screen to ultimately get?
How much are you willing to SPEND?
How much TIME are you willing to invest in maintaining the screen?
Think about those questions and We in the group will be better able to make
more accurate suggestions.
Anthony B. Zone 6
Ky. Certified Nurseryman
Ky. Nursery Landscapers Association
On one side of the yard in particular, fast growth is the most important
consideration. My side yard slopes away from the house, so a taller fence
is not an option at the bottom of the slope. An ultimate height of 30 feet
or more would be ideal.
This is an interesting link. If you scroll down, you'll see pictures of
Green Giant Arborvitae when they were planted at a height of 7 feet, and 2.5
years later when they were 12 to 13 feet.
Is 7 feet a reasonable height for Green Giant Arborvitae at most nurseries,
and how expensive are they? Could they be planted now, or will I need to
wait until after the danger of frost? I've read that they are relatively
maintenance-free, and I find that appealing, as I won't have a lot of time
to invest in pruning them.
I did a search on Dragon Lady holly and it looks like a possibility for
other parts of the yard. How fast does it grow?
I don't know how much to budget because I don't have any experience in this
area. I suppose the first step is to determine how many plants I'll need,
and I'm still working on that.
Thanks for the information on moving the pear trees.
Most Arborvitaes that I have handled in the past will typically be most
widely available as 8' shrubs. You can expect to pay between $100-130 a
If you can find a nursery still open this time of year, go ahead and plant.
Otherwise, wait till spring. In either case, watering properly will still
be an issue come summer.
Green Giante Arborvitae will reach a height of 40-60 ft with a spread of
Dragon Lady will get about 12-15 feet tall and 8 feet across... It can grow
2-3 feet a year once established ( most shrubs take about 3 years to become
Most common size available is a 15 gallon potsize at a height of about 5-6
feet and about $120 a plant.
Determining the number of plants for a privacy screen or hedge is simple.
Measure the length of the line to be screened then divide by HALF the
expected mature spread of the shrub.
Ex. say You go with the Giant Arbor with an average mature spread of 16
feet.. 24(length of line) / 8 (half of 16)= 3 plants planted on 8 ft centers
( trunk to trunk distance)
The reason you go 1/2 the spread is so that the screen will look like one
nice solid mass when mature and not like just a row of shrubs.
Thanks for the very useful information. I tried calling local nurseries and
they are all closed for the holiday. What do you think of mail order
nurseries like this one?
The prices are certainly right.
There is nothing at all WRONG about buying mailorder for certain plant
items like perennials or tropicals, however, there are a few things to bear
in mind shopping mailorder:
1) Size of plants... In order for the shrubs to be shipped at a reasonable
cost, you will seldom find anything larger than maybe 4 ft tall. This would
mean you would have to wait between 3-5 ears for your screen to fill in
2) Condition of plant matierial.... With Nursery bought shrubs, every step
of the shipping process is moniterd and desighned to get the product to the
retailer in best possible condition. with mail order, this is not possible.
The mail order house will do evrything they can before the plants leave
thier nursery, but once it gets put on the postal truck . . . .
3) Shipping costs....Bottany store is rare , it's shipping isn't high at all
in your area, but most other mailorder nurseries do have occasionall steep
All this said, I think you found a pretty good solution for your privacy
screen and a good source for the green giants. Go for it.
I am assuming the smaller sizes will come bare-root... That will take
slightly more advanced gardening skills but I think you can handle it. I
would go with the 3 gallon shrub myself. they will have a better developed
root system and won't require the extra attention to avoid the roots drying
out during the planting process.
You seem to have things in control.. It is rare that folks will actually
ask advice and do research before executing a project like this. Seems
like you are on your way to becoming a gardening addict ;)
If you have any other questions, post away!!
Thanks. I really have garden fever. My new house is less than two years
old, but the previous owner did quite a bit of yard work in the short time
he was here. There is still a lot to do, however. He put retaining wall
flower beds around the house, so I will need many bedding plants for this
Spring and I'm going to grow my own from seed. I have some seed left over
from my old place and I also bought some this weekend. Here's the list so
Columbine (Burpee Harlequin Mix)
Marigold (Burpee American Giants Mix)
Marigold (Ferry Morse Crackerjack Mix Colors)
Impatiens (Burpee Butterfly Hybrid Mix)
Impatiens (Burpee Flavors Hybrid - Blueberry)
Tomato (Burpee Super Sweet 100 Hybrid Cherry)
Peppers (Burpee Carnival Mix)
Lettuce (Black-Seeded Simpson)
Lettuce (Ferry Morse Ruby Ruffles)
Carrot (Nantes Coreless)
Onion (Burpee Evergreen Long White Bunching)
Any suggestions for shade-loving annuals, other than impatiens, would be
appreciated. I have a lot of seed starting to do, but it should be fun.
The amount of shade loving annuals is rather limited compared to
the more common ones other than impations are :
Begonias, Coleus, Lobelia, Browallia, torenia and Streptocarpus
many sun-loving annuals can also benefit from afternoon shade.
I like doing a mix of annuals and perennials for my shade beds.
I understand completely your 'planter's fever' and though it may be very
very hard to do, especially when the garden center season begins, you should
do your best to take your time and PLAN what you want to do. And research,
too... lots of research.
Remember, instant gratification often results in long term dissatisfaction.
Thanks again and I'll be buying more seed.
One more question about the Green Giant Arborvitae. How far from my fence
do you recommend planting them so they won't intrude into my neighbor's yard
within a few years?
You will want to come out AT LEAST half the expected final spread of the
shrub. in this case , about 6- 8 feet out from the fence. You may also want
to bring the two plants on the end IN from the ends of the privacy line
about the same distance.
Keep that Spearmint well contained or you'll have no room for anything
else in a short time. It sends runners several inches below ground
that can pop up many feet away. It is probably impossible to remove by
pulling once established.
No probably to it, it IS impossible to remove by hand pulling. voiice of
experience for I had made the mistake of planting it direvt into a border dn
I have to go out weekly to yank out the excess.
Planting spearmint in a large pot in the ground works pretty well. And out
of the ground for that matter.
others may disagree,
Planting spearmint in a large pot in the middle of a concrete slab is
the safest place if you are going to plant it at all. I dug roots out
of a 20 foot circle for 2 years before finally getting it all out. The
only thing I've planted that was harder to eradicate was passion
flower vine and a trumpet flower vine.
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