Hi i need some advice…we have a huge maple tree at the back of our yard (neighbours tree) that has just had to be cut right back as it was overhanging our yard about 8 foot killing everything underneith it, but it was great for privacy. We can now see into our neighbours yard and she can now see into ours and our house so would like we think a hedge at the back that will grow tall but also something we can prune to keep it narrow to the fence..something that wont take up to much room…could another option be bamboo? Can bamboo survive in the kawarha lakes area? what would you suggest If there is a better option ie trees i would also love to hear about it. We are zone 5 and because of the tree roots we may not be able to plant in the ground instead build planter boxes. Please help we are quite upset with our new view. Thank you


Your question is a popular one on the Toronto Master Gardener Website, which has resulted in a Gardening Guide on the topic.  To see the guide Evergreens suitable for hedging, click here.

If you search our Ask a Master Gardener website using the word “privacy hedge”, you will find a number of Q&A’s that provide helpful information with regard to choice of plants and their maintenance.

When choosing plants for a formal hedge it is important to consider their eventual height, spread and speed of development. Evergreens provide year round privacy if that if what you are looking for. On the other hand, some deciduous plants such as beech and Hornbeam make excellent hedges. Although beech and hornbeam are both deciduous trees and their leaves die in the autumn, they remain attached until pushed off by the new buds in the spring so are an effective screen through the winter months.

Hedges are planted at high density and plants compete with each other from an early age, so careful preparation at planting is essential. The ultimate shape and height will determine the spacing of plants. Planting distances vary between 300-750mm depending on the plant’s vigour. Severe root competition and possible mortality can occur if too close, and it will take a longer period to join up and form a hedge if too widely spaced.  Keeping the hedge watered for the first two years, while it becomes established is also critical.

There are bamboos that will survive your zone 5a climate if you chose to grow bamboo. There are two types of bamboo: clumpers and spreaders. Bamboo is a grass and, like all grasses, it grows quickly and needs a lot of nitrogen. Many Bamboos are very invasive and it is important not to plant the spreading bamboos. Clumping Bamboo makes a great Hedge is an excellent article on growing bamboo in Ontario.

Lastly,when growing evergreens or deciduous shrubs in containers you must remember the larger the container, the more soil it can hold therfore the better the insulating factor for the roots. Winterizing / Insulating Balcony/Terrace perennial gardens and Winterizing Container grown Trees and Shrubs provide excellent information on how to go about making sure that the temperature in the soil and around the plant to remain as constant as possible, with only gradual or mild fluctuations.