Beech Hedge vs Hornbeam Hedge

(Question)

Hi,
We are looking to put either a Beech or Hornbeam in our Toronto property as a privacy screening. I think we are leaning towards Beech because it tends to keep more of its leaves over winter vs Hornbeam.

What do you think is best? We get mostly shade but have both
What size do you think is best to plant? I have read that smaller is better and keep them low for the first years to thicken them up.
Other comments?

Many thanks!

(Answer)

Thank you for your inquiry.  Choosing either beech or hornbeam are excellent choices for hedging. Depending on the growing conditions (sun, soil, drainage) will determine which plant is best.

Beech, Fagus sylvatica and Hornbeam, Carpinus betulus,are unrelated but very similar looking when they are grown as a hedge.

Beech is the most popular due to its beautiful leaves. After they turn brown in autumn, they will hang onto the branches right through the winter. If you are planing to locate your hedge in  a sunny location with good drainage then a beech hedge will grow well. Similar to beech Hornbeams serrated leaves and the leaves will hang on the branches for most of the winter, but not as long as the beech. If the site you are considering has some shade, with damp soil and poor drainage then Hornbeam is the best choice.

I would like to refer you to a similar question which was posted to our website which gives the merits of planting a hornbeam hedge vs a beech hedge : https://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/?s=renovating+our+oakville