Hedging Close to Mature Maple Tree



My partner and I live on a busy street in South Burlington and are interested in planting a hedge around 4 feet across the front of our property. According to the internet I believe our hardiness zone is 6b and we seem to have a mixture of clay and sand based soil.

Currently we have a fairly mature Maple tree that is approximately in line with where we would like to plant the hedge. Ideally we would have this hedge wrap around the tree, or merge with the base of the tree below the canopy.

MY question is how close can we plant this hedge to the tree while setting all plant material up for success?


There are several different species of maple – some are have roots close to the surface, so compete with nearby plants for water and nutrients.   Others have deeper roots, so would interfere less with their neighbours.   For example, the most common maples found in the Toronto are are the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), Norway maple (Acer platanoides), and Manitoba maple (Acer negundo).  All three varieties have shallow, spreading root systems.  These would all be highly competitive with a nearby hedge.  And if you plant too close to the tree, its root system could be disrupted, adversely affecting its health.

I suggest that you first identify the species of maple that you have on your property.  Check with your local nursery or speak with an arborist.  You can search on-line for experts in your area through Landscape Ontario.   At the same time, ask how far the root zone of your maple extends.  Plant any hedge well outside that area – these experts may have helpful suggestions as to the type of hedge to choose.   The goal is to encourage health growth of both the tree and the hedge.

Another issue to consider is that the maple tree canopy may not permit much sunlight to get through to an adjacent hedge.   You may wish to select a species that will grow in a relatively shaded area.   For example, see Evergreens suitable for hedging: a Toronto Master Gardeners Guide for suggestions.

Finally, as large or tall plants generally don’t thrive under trees, it would be a good idea to think of an alternative to the hedge wrapping around the tree.   An attractive option might be to plant a groundcover between the hedge and the tree.