We’re trying to source some hedges for the property at Philpott Gardens in the Beaches Toronto. The main thing we’re looking for is a suitable plant for the hedge that does not rely on regular watering, more hardy, and doesn’t need really good soil. 2-3 ft below the surface is clay and stone.
Hello – This is a tall order and I’m going to have to make some assumptions about the size and purpose (privacy, property demarcation, simply decorative etc.) of the hedge you are after and some of the other site conditions you haven’t mentioned in order to make recommendations. I had a look online at the development at Philpott gardens so will assume you are after a small to medium hedge of 2ft/.6cm to 4ft/1.2m. The quality of the soil can be amended but the ability of the soil to drain well may be an issue given the clay and stone you mention. I’m going to assume your site has well draining soil but you might want to check this out. I’ve included a link below outlining an easy test to determine how well your soil drains. Lastly, I’ll assume you have a full sun location – at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
On to some recommendations.
If you are looking for an evergreen hedge, cedars (Thuga sp.), junipers (Juniperus sp.) and yews (Taxus sp.) are the best species for a small to medium hedge. Of these, I think junipers best meet your conditions with yews a possible second choice. Cedars in general do not tolerate dry conditions. Junipers are hardy plants and can survive with minimal care – they will grow well in dry soil. Yews are also considered easy to grow although somewhat less hardy than junipers. They do suffer from the drying effects of winter winds and salt damage. Both need well draining soil. The Toronto Master Gardeners guide on suitable evergreens for hedging will give you specific cultivar recommendations. Click here to access the guide.
Many deciduous shrubs are also good choices for a hedge particularly if you are after a more informal effect and the lack of leaves in the winter is not a problem if privacy is a consideration. Two flowering shrubs to consider are: Bridalwreath spirea (Spirea x vanhouttei) and Dwarf Korean lilac (Syringa meyeri). The lilac, particularly the cultivar ‘Palibin’ could work well. It does well in average, well drained soil with dry to medium moisture requirements. A description from the Missouri Botanical Garden at the link below will give you more information about this shrub.
Bridalwreath spirea is another hardy, low maintenance. A hedge of this plant is quite lovely in the spring when covered in it’s white bloom. It has a medium moisture requirement. My own Bridalwreath spirea receives supplemental watering only during drought conditions. More information on this shrub also from the Missouri Botanical Garden can be found at the link below.
I hope one of these shrubs will meet your needs. Note that these plants will only tolerate dry conditions once established so they will need regular watering in at least their first season.