It's something we all crave from time to time, a little time by ourselves to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Often we are being asked how we can develop a quick and easy solution for blocking views from neighbours, walking trails and roadways. Most often we hear that clients think the only option is a wooden constructed fence. No one gives much thought to keeping things green and planting a natural hedge or mixed planting of informal hedging.
It often comes down to maintenance and we all know we want to be enjoying that private space and not worrying about maintaining a hedge. That is where any reputable landscape maintenance company comes in; it’s where NRL can assist you in seasonal, monthly or bimonthly pruning.
Hedges have many characteristics that make them worth recommending. They can and will live longer, if maintenance is provided, than wooden constructed fences, yes, even longer then pressure treated fences. Many towns and municipalities in our area have fence height restrictions; these restrictions do not apply to hedges and natural plantings.
Natural hedging and privacy plantings provide shelter and safety for birds and other wildlife that venture out to feed. They also help control everything from slugs to aphids, ultimately, reducing the number of pests present in gardens and increasing the overall appeal of our landscapes.
Proper maintenance and shaping of hedges are a must and we find many people are not aware of this end of things. The sides should be pruned and top kept at a manageable height. When pruning, it is essential not to cut back into the deadwood of evergreen hedges as you are often left with branches that do not regrow. That is why it is important to maintain regular pruning and not let pruning go for several years. The same can be applied to general pruning of trees and shrubs throughout your gardens and landscape. Pruning will also maintain a full and dense plant.
Fertilizing is also important and an application of slow release fertilizer or an all-purpose tree and shrub fertilizer can be applied in early spring and early summer. Never fertilize beyond the middle of August, you will be promoting growth that may or may not have time to harden off before the frost hits in the fall.
The following is a partial list of shrubs that make a great hedge:
- Burning Bush
It is also important to remember that most of us in Lunenburg County are prone to having deer, meaning they like to snack on our gardens and landscapes. It is vital when choosing plant material to keep this in mind, Cedars and Yews are two of their favourites. Hedges can be attacked easier because they are often taller and above the snow in winter months when deer have nothing else to eat.
Some clients have had issues with high traffic of people taking short cuts across their property, so a planting of Rugosa Roses, Quince, Hawthorn and Barberry are all great specimens which may not be so welcoming for people.
One of our favourites would be a Privet hedge, they are extremely hardy, fast growing, can handle a major pruning, and never have much of an issue with pests or disease. When pruning Privet, you can cut back to one foot high if you are willing to sacrifice the privacy for a season, they will actually grow back much thicker.
Informal hedging is another option which provides a mixed planting of different shrubs, ornamental grasses and trees. This gives you a very diverse area and not a perfectly structured look.
Most of all, remember wooden fences are not maintenance free they often heave and they need painting, staining, and replacement of rotted sections.