Rose Hedge

(Question)

I would like to grow a hedge on a chain link fence (not yet installed) on my southwest-facing corner lot in the Parkdale area of Toronto, with the long stretch on the west. The corner has almost full sun. The rest has some shade from mature maples (a neighbour’s tree to the east shading some of the south lawn and another halfway along the west stretch). There is also a horse chestnut close to the north border. I am wondering whether Wild Rose is a good choice. I love the long season of blossoms, the fragrane and the rosehips, and I believe birds and bees love it too. I don’t mind if it’s a bit messy-looking but I don’t want it snagging passersby on the sidewalk. Once there is a fence, I would like to put in a couple of raised beds in that sunny southwest corner for veggies. I don’t see wild rose used this way in Toronto and wonder if there’s a good reason for that. Last spring I found a distributor of little wild rose plants that shipped from Alberta and the price was very reasonable. Thanks for this very helpful website.

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Wild roses are beautiful and hedges of them are very showy. Without a picture it is difficult for me to assess if the sidewalk will be an issue.

Picking the rose you will use to create this hedge is an important step. There are many types of wild roses each with its own requirements for growth; http://cwf-fcf.org/en/resources/encyclopedias/flora/wild-roses.html.  There also many hybrids to choose from which may have more of the qualities you are looking for and suit your location better.

Different roses will have different bloom times and some will bloom only once in a season and some will bloom repeatedly. Some will grow quite large while others remain more contained. Some roses are more thorny than others which may be an issue  with the sidewalk  and pedestrians . If you do use a rose hedge you will need to make sure it is not extending past the fence as that will cause issues with passers by.

It will be important to note the specific requirements of the rose to make sure it matches the soil and growing conditions you have in your yard. Different roses are hardy to different zones so you want one that will survive your winters. I am including some links below from our Toronto Master Gardener Library that discuss planting care and pruning of roses.

If you are still concerned about the sidewalk you may want to visit your local nursery and see what other flowering shrubs they have that will give you a similar display without the thorns.

Transplanting roses

Pruning Roses: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide