Plants for a hedge

(Question)

Hello,
We bought a house in one of Boston, MA suburbs. We’d like to have a hedge (about 6-7 feet tall, full sun) in front of the house to reduce the traffic noise and to have more privacy. The perimeter is about 100 ft. We are considering two kinds of evergreen yews: “Bobbink” (Taxus media, height 5-6 ft, width: 5-6 ft) and “Hicks” (Taxus Hicksii, height 8-10′, width 3-4″.
Could you, please help us with the choice?
Thank you.

(Answer)

Welcome to a Canadian website. I have a daughter and family living in Cambridge so I am delighted to help with this question.

I have had Hicks yews in my garden for over 30 years. I am not familiar with the Bobbink variety. Is this freely found in your nurseries?

Often the Hicks yew is without berries which I think is one of the attractive aspects of the rather plain shrub. Male versions do not have berries. Hicks yews tend to grow very tall and rather columnar in shape which is good for hedging. They are good for most soil situations although I know your soil will contain a great deal of sand as compared to our Toronto Clay. They do require a regular pruning to keep the shape and height you wish. Pruning should be done in the summer or early autumn. They are an easy shrub and create a more formal effect.

I know from walking the area that Holly ( Ilex aquifolium) grows so well in your soil and environmental conditions. How I would love a hedge of this!

Privet is also very popular although not an evergreen but noise is probably not such an issue in winter with  windows closed.

My personal favourite is a beech hedge ( Fagus sylvatica ). Winter interest as well as dense leaf  interest in the summer.

Please plant your shrub with the knowledge that they will grow and therefore need space to do this. Too often wanting an immediate result they are planted too closely creating problems later. Your 100 feet will require a great number of plants so expect a fair deposit on your bank account.

The American Horticultural Society  A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, Brickwell and Zuk, editors

How to Plant a Privacy Hedge – arborday.org – Arbor Day Foundation