Mixed hedge privacy screen

(Question)

I would like to plant a hedge/privacy screen at the back of my garden along a chain link fence approx 45-50ft. After doing some research and considering various shrubs I am leaning towards a mixed hedge border of deciduous shrubs, for a more informal look. I live in the Brampton area and I believe I’m in zone 5. The area is a mix of full sun to part shade. I would like shrubs that can reach up to 8ft to create a nice screen in the summer and I was wondering what you might recommended for a mixed hedge in my area. I currently have a mock orange shrub and a diablo ninebark and a bottlebrush buckeye although that is not along the fence and would be in front of the border. I was thinking of adding a dogwood, smokebush and viburnum. Any ideas, recommendations or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Kind regards

(Answer)

What a lovely idea. The key to a successful garden is putting the right plant in the right location with respect to light and water requirements. You mention that your planting area will be a mixture of full sun to part shade. Full sun means that your garden will receive more than 6 hours of sun, whereas part shade usually refers to an average of 4 hours of sunlight.

You will also need to know the hardiness zone for your area. This will give you an indication how well your shrubs will survive the winter. As you mentioned in your inquiry, Brampton is indeed in zone 5.

Lastly, the most critical key to successful gardening is the soil. Is your soil acidic or alkaline? Does it have too much clay or too much sand? Improving the soil is often as simple as adding organic matter.

Lastly you should plan your hedge to have succession of blooms. Since we spend most of our time outdoors during the summer I would suggest choosing ¼ of your shrubs to flower in the spring, 1/2 should flower in the summer and ¼ should have fall/winter interest.

You are already on your way with the initial choices that you have made. You may wish to look at the following shrubs:

Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma). This shrub is grown for its rows of lilac-violet berries, which attract birds. This shrub produces small pink flowers in the summer, which are followed by the small purple berries that ripen in September and last through October. It has good yellow fall color as well.

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) has leathery oak-like leaves with large clusters of white flowers in July, which turn pink in August. Fall foliage is a brilliant burgundy.

Mount Airy Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenia ‘Mount Airy’) has clusters of white flowers before the leaves emerge in the spring. The foliage turns yellow-orange-red in the fall.

Saskatoon Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is another great option. This shrub produces white flowers in May, followed by blue-purple fruit in July followed by yellow foliage in October.

Weigela sp. These shrubs come in a variety of flower colours. The trumpet shaped flowers bloom in either May or June depending on the variety.

Hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Srawberry produces large panicles of flowers in the summer. The flowers emerge creamy white in mid-summer then change to pink and finally to strawberry red.

Have fun planning your flowering hedge.