Hedging for Toronto

(Question)

Greetings! We are looking at installing a privacy hedge along the perimeter or most of the perimeter.

We really like manicured looking hedges and we would like to go with something like a Beech, Hornbeam or possibly Yew or Privet. Our issue is the ‘width’ or ‘spread’; many of these list 10′ spreads and that simply would take too much away from our yard when it gets to the height we need (about 2 meters). I believe if you tend to many of these hedges you can control the spread or width from what they indicate x to x width. We have a large yard and have a number of our rear neighbours ugly garages at the back and want to hide them so we need a good 2 meters or so in height but don’t want to have a 10′ stealing of our yard on the width. We also have some large trees which 10′ width would be growing into some of these trees and steal away from the aesthetics of the yard.

We have recently been looking at the Willow hedging (Salix viminalis) as well which is a new thing but that seems a bit wild and has to be built around a wooden frame. This does not appear too be a bad solution but still not our first choice.

We are in the High Park area of Toronto so I believe that is a zone 5 and just want to make certain if we plant 115′ of hedging that we make the right choice.

So I guess our question is what is the best well manicured hedge for Toronto area (preference deciduous) that has a good height with a small to medium width.

Many thanks in advance.

(Answer)

You are correct that most of the species you have mentioned can spread almost as wide as their height but there are other options, such as various cultivars of Eastern white cedar ((Thuja occidentalis), juniper and yew.

Recommended Varieties:

Eastern White Cedar

Thuja occidentalis (Eastern White Cedar) is hardy to Zone 2. Consider field grown specimens, as they are usually more economical and offer single stemmed specimens. These native plants are versatile, will thrive in sun or part shade, require neutral to alkaline moist soil and prefer good drainage.

Cultivars

T. occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’ height 3-4m, spread 1.2m

T. occidentalis ‘Nigra’ height to 5 m, spread to .5m fast growing with dark green foliage

Juniper

Juniperus spp. (Juniper) is hardy to Zone 4.

Cultivars

J. chinensis ‘Mountbatten’ height to 6 m, spread to 2m, sun, rapid growth with silver green foliage

J. chinensis ‘Spartan’ height to 4m, spread to 1.25m, sun and part shade

Yew

Taxus spp. (Yew) is hardy to Zone 4. Will tolerate shade or sun.

Cultivars

T. x media ‘Hicksii’ height 2.5m, spread 1 m. Upright columnar form, dark green foliage with inedible red berries

T. x media ‘Densiformis’ height 2 m. A slow growing compact cultivar ideal for low hedge

T. cuspidata ‘Aurescens’ height/spread to 1.5m. Green needles with bright gold tips, plant in full sun for best color

The most commonly used hedging in Toronto is the Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) because it is reliable, easily obtained and relatively fast growing. However, there are other evergreen options. For more information check out our Gardening Guide Evergreens Suitable for Hedging.

Or, you could opt for a deciduous hedge using such ornamental shrubs as barberry (Berberis thunbergii), burning bush (Euonymus alatus), lilac (Syringa) or Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’), bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea vanhoutte), red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), or Weigela, to name just a few that would fit within your space preferences.

For many more suggestions and a complete guide for looking after these lovely shrubs  Toronto Master Gardeners has a Gardening Guide: Ornamental Shrubs for Various Light Conditions

You might also like to review our answer concerning using beech or hornbeam as a hedge to a gardener living in the Oakville area : Renovating our Oakville City Garden

 

Good Luck with your project.