Hi, I’m looking for recommendations to install a short barrier hedge (looking for max 3 feet high, 3 wide to span a 25 feet length) at my front yard to divide my property from my neighbours yard as we share front yards (I live in a semi-detached house). I live in Toronto (North York), soil type: silty clay topsoil, full sun exposure, fairly moist (not excessively wet nor too dry). Looking for something that will grow fast and into a “full” dense hedge. Could you share some recommendations for evergreen as well as deciduous shrubs to use as a hedge for this area? Since I have the chance to put in something new in this area, I am open to planting something unique/ vibrant or flowering a shrub if recommended.
As a side note, the rose glow barberry has been suggested to me as a “unique hedge” option, what are your thoughts on this?
Thanks for your time and assistance!
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners about a hedge recommendation. Here are some suggestions of what you might plant.
I would not recommend a barberry hedge. Japanese barberry is an invasive species in Ontario http://www.invadingspecies.com/japanese-barberry/ . Ornamental cultivars of Japanese barberry, like ‘Rose Glow’, may also be invasive.
A possible deciduous hedge alternative would be dwarf spirea. There are several dwarf varieties available that grow to a height of 2-3 feet, are low maintenance and very hardy. For example, there is the Shirobana Spirea with flat-topped flowers in combinations of red, pink and white all on the same plant. It grows to 3×3 feet. More details here:
Contact your local nursery to find out what dwarf spirea cultivars are currently available. The nursery may have other recommendations of deciduous shrubs that would meet your criteria.
Note that deciduous shrubs tend not to grow as densely as evergreen ones.
Boxwood (Buxus) is likely the best evergreen choice for the type of hedge that you envision for your front yard. Even though boxwoods grow well in full sun, some cultivars perform best with some afternoon shade.
Winter sun is perhaps the main problem with boxwood; the sun and wind can cause the leaves to desiccate once the ground is frozen and the roots are unable to absorb water. The use of mulch around the hedge will allow the soil to retain moisture during the growing season; during the winter, winter burn may be reduced with the use of an anti-desiccant (an organic spray that is applied before the temperatures fall below freezing). Such products can be obtained from your local nursery.
‘Green Velvet’ would probably be the best cultivar for the size of hedge you plan. It is a particularly hardy variety, and holds its colour well into winter. For more information on this plant, please see:
Here is a link to our Gardening Guide on Evergreen Hedging: