pls help identify this shrub and also what to put under


Hi there

I have this shrub about 7feet talltall 3 feet wide around the perimeter of my house. They have black berries in the fall. could you tell me the name and give me a suggestion of what to put at the roots. I have a lot of weed under the hedges I imagine because birds frequent there and poop into the soil a lot.

Also. One of the pictures is a picture of a plant that’s under the hedges. Got lots of it. Is it a weed. Can I rip it out.

Should I put a weed barrier down under the hedges.

My house is south facing.lots of sun.

I can’t upload pics. Here’s the link.



Thank you very much for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question about shrub identification.  It is early in the season and difficult to make a positive identification as the leaves are just beginning to emerge.  There may be a few possibilities based on your pictures and description.  This a deciduous shrub that loses its leaves in the fall.  It may be a Privet (Lugustrum vulgare), which are not native but commonly found in Ontario.  The leaves are oval or lance-shaped and emerge in pairs opposite to each other and whorled around the stem – usually in groups of four.  Small white flowers emerge in June and dark berries are produced in the fall.  The main stems grow from the base and produce multiple small flexible branches.  You can see pictures and a description here Privet and here Privet.  Another possibility based on the berries you describe in fall is Chokeberry (Aronia manocarpa), which is native to Ontario.  You can learn more and see photographs of Chokeberry here Chokeberry.

The plant you show growing under the hedge is almost certainly garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).  This is an invasive plant in Ontario and should be carefully removed.  Garlic mustard spreads readily by seed and thrives so well that it threatens many native species.  The easiest clue to identifying garlic mustard is the odour released when you crush the leaves (especially new leaves) – it will smell like garlic.  Garlic mustard is pretty easy to pull up by hand.  It’s best to do this as soon as possible – before it flowers and try to remove the whole root.  Dispose of garlic mustard in the garbage.  Don’t put it in your compost or yard waste.  More information about garlic mustard and how to remove and dispose of it can be found here Garlic Mustard

Once you have removed the garlic mustard and as much of the other weeds as you can, 1-2 inch layer of compost or shredded bark mulch can help to decrease weed growth, retain moisture and improve the structure of your soil around the hedge.  Non-organic barriers such as landscape fabric are not recommended.  You may also want to consider planting native species near the base of the hedge to crowd out weeds in the future.  Since you have sun, something like wild wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), lancelet coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) or moss phlox (Phlox subulata) are a few suggestions but you can find more information here Native plant designs and here Grow Me Instead

April 27, 2021