Hedges

(Question)

Hello,

I am interested in planting coniferous hedges, mainly for privacy and noise reduction from the street. Any advice for different species and reasonable cost? What is the kind that can be trimmed with straight edges that is very aesthetically pleasing? Any planting tips, along with ongoing maintenance tips? If I plant them close to the street, is there a real risk of death from road salt in the winter?

Thanks!

(Answer)

Coniferous hedges would make a beautiful and practical buffer for privacy and noise reduction. Below are a number of hedges that would be suitable and all can be trimmed with straight edges. Larger trees can be trimmed to limit height to 2 m.  (7 ft.). A trip to a reputable nursery to have a look at the many different cultivars is another option. All will need regular watering.

  1.  Norway spruce Picea abies: Full height: 25 m (75 ft.), Location: sun, Hardiness: Zone 3, don’t let it become overgrown because if they need to be cut back hard, regrowth will be slow
  2. White spruce Picea glauca: Full height:  20 m (60 ft.), Location: sun, Hardiness: Zone 2,
  3. White Pine Pinus strobus: Full height: 40 m (120 ft.), Location: sun or partial shade, Hardiness: Zone 2, maintenance: if trimmed regularly, will remain soft
  4. Yew Taxus media ‘densiforumis’: Full height:  1 m (3-4 ft.), Location: sun or partial shade, Hardiness: Zone 4,
  5. White cedar Thuja occidentalis: Full height:  10-20 m (30-60 ft.), Location: sun or partial shade, Hardiness: Zone 3,
  6. Eastern Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana): Full height: 10 m (30 ft.), Location: sun, intolerant of shade, Hardiness: Zone 3
Norway spruce, White spruce, and White pine are great as hedges/ wind break on large properties where they can grow to their full size. Trimmed regularly they look very pleasing. If space is limited/ or straight trimmed lines are desired Yews, Thuja and Juniperus cultivars are a better choice and in the long run more aesthetically pleasing.   

Road salt could harm your hedges over the winter; however, Eastern red cedars have been found to tolerate salt spray.

Planting tips:

  • dig a 2 ft. (60 cm) wide trench by 2-3 ft. wide (60-90 cm)
  • alternate 3 in (8 cm) of organic matter (compost) with topsoil
  • dig individual holes at proper spacing and set plants in place
  • prevent wind damage by tying plants to a horizontal wire
  • for a formal hedge, shorten shoots by 1/3 after planting
  • cut new growth by 1/2 yearly until hedge is desired height

Happy gardening!