Hicks Yew Hedges and Baltic Ivy


We have a garden designed by a landscaper which calls for:
1. a 1ft tall yew hedge
2. a 3 ft tall yew hedge
3. a 4-5ft tall yew hedge – but want it to be not 3ft thickness, looking for a skinnier tall hedge.
4. baltic ivy under a large existing maple (front yard)
5. greenvhelvet box wood balls – when is best to plant these now or spring?

We’ve gone to the nurseries and the 4-5ft plus yew (hicks’s) are quite thick (3-4ft thick). So we are considering starting all the hedges with 1ft or 2ft plants (2-3 gallons I believe). We would like them to be narrower as its a small downtown property.

We are hoping to plant them now Halloween or First week of November). or should we wait till march/april

How close do we plant them to create a formal hedge (hopefully sooner then later) but still give them enough breathing room. Drawing shows 2ft on centres.

With regards to the baltic ivy under a large maple tree (ie. touch growing conditions). We planted these instead of grass. How often should we water them and how long – slow trickle till ground gets wet a certain amount of inches? we used a root fertilizer when first planted. should we do another fertilization before winter? (planted about a month ago. Do we mulch them? someone recommend to leave the maple leaves on top of it, but others say to get rid of them incase they have a white mold on them.

Is it best to plant these this now or spring? any suggestions on how to plant them and take care of them? burlap them in winter for the first year?

What should we fertilize them with? what should we mulch them with? should we burlap lap them first winter? Do we water them until the ground freezes in end of December – live in the lesliville area of Toronto (between riverdale and the beaches) and ground usually doesn’t freeze fully untill late in the year.

any other other advice to keep them healthy and pounded?

Appreciate your advice. First gardening and want to take care of it proper and make it flourish.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry and congratulations on your planned new installation!


In terms of size and spacing,  you will want to plant based on how your shrubs will be when they are at the mature size within the hedge. So assuming your yews which  will be in the vicinity of 4 feet high, planting them 2 feet on center will be too congested.  So I would suggest minimally 30-36 inches off center, to allow for a solid hedge. Given this as a goal, does it make sense to start with that small of a shrub….. and I would say no, unless you are willing to be patient for 3 years.  Hence my suggestion is to go with a larger size to start with.

For the smaller hedges you can start with smaller sizes from the nursery, and plant them more proportionally off center if that is what is called for.

If you were to plant them now, then you will want to keep in mind the following;  The biggest risk to zone hardy evergreens during the winter is not the cold , but rather the loss of moisture through transpiration. This risk is greater to newly planted yews, because usually they are going through some level of transplant shock or adjustment, and their root system and moisture uptake is compromised.  This risk can be somewhat mitigated by taking the following steps;

1)  Avoid bare-root transplants, or make sure the root balls do not get broken up in transplant….. trying to minimize the disturbance to the roots. I find that with mid-sized or larger yews it becomes more difficult to keep the root balls in tact, as they often fall apart.

2) Ensure the roots are deep watered at time of watering and also kept well irrigated until ground freezes

3) The use of a dilution of  anti-desiccant spray  (like Wilt-Pruf) is highly recommended ( see the following website for specific dilution: https://www.wilt-pruf.com/Easy-Wilt-Prufsupregsup-application_b_5.html ; especially for first year transplant , as this will help protect against loss of moisture through the needles. You can find anti-desiccants in most nursery centers at this time, but follow directions. As an alternative to wilt pruf you could consider wrapping your shrubs in burlap. Preparing Evergreens for Winter is an excellent website with step by step instructions along with illustrations.

So to answer you timing question, you can plant now or in the springtime. I would give some preference to waiting until spring time.

You can find evergreen specific fertilizer, which should be applied in April. The exception is when you actually plant you will want to only use transplant fertilizer ( 5-15-5) at that time (which will encourage root production).

Mulching is a good practice, (but avoid using wood chips or chunky mulch , as this actually depletes the soil of nitrogen).  More importantly is the proper preparation of the sub-soil in the garden bed where you are planting, so as to encourage new shrubs to expand their root outwards and thrive.


Pretty much follow the same advice I provided above for the yews, with a few more specifics.

With broadleaf evergreens (like boxwoods, azaleas, holy, etc.), protecting against desiccation is of greater concern , as they have more surface area from which to deplete moisture during winters. Hence protecting them against drying winter winds is the theme here. So depending on the wind exposure in your location, you may want to both apply anti-desiccant and burlap.  In general, boxwoods are not as hardy in harsher winters as are yews, so for that reason I would more strongly lean towards a spring planting.

Another import characteristic of boxwoods, is that they are quite intolerant to winter salts. So if they are going to be near a walkway or driveway, you will want to be very vigilant in minimizing salt applications adjacent to plantings.

I wish you enjoyment with your new plantings and for years to come.


BALTIC IVY (Hedera helix ‘Baltica’)

Baltic Ivy is both very hardy and also grows in a very wide range of environmental conditions.  Having stated that, planting under a maple tree can challenge any ground-cover,  varying to what extent the root competition exists.  So watering frequency will depend on how dry the soil is. So you will want to irrigate minimally 3 times a week depending on your soil conditions. You are better off watering for longer periods and less frequently. So a regular regiment of 3 times per week for one hour should work for the ivy. You can adjust accordingly if the ivy still looks like it is not thriving.

As with any of your other shrubs you should avoid fertilizing this time of year when we want plants to go through their natural process of slowing down and going dormant. Fertilizing will risk creating more vigour and excite the plans to try and put on more growth, which at this point will not get hardened off for winter….. and hence become winter-kill.

So wait for springtime to to fertilize. Because you are growing under the maple tree, you may want to consider topping up with an added 2 inch layer of triple mix every year or 2. I would avoid covering your ivy with leaves as a blanket for winter. This is not necessary, and can encourage mold, and can be somewhat messy in picking out the leaves.