Tall narrow evergreen hedge

(Question)

I want to plant a privacy hedge on one side of a backyard swimming pool which is shade tolerant as the neighbour”s backyard has 2 big trees , fast growing and tall and narrow. I live in the city of Mississauga just north of lake Ontario. I would like the height of the shrubs to be appox 10 feet .
I have also seen hybrid shrubs which have just the trunk and foliage on the top which would also be suitable to my needs

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

You mention that the plants need to be “shade tolerant”. Does the area receive sun at some point during the day or is the area shaded the entire day? Partial shade is approximately 2-4 hours of sun per day in a given location. Partially shaded sites receive both sun and shade at various intervals. Plants in partial shade may receive direct sun throughout the day for a few hours with at least half the day spent in shade.

Full shade basically means that the shade lasts all day long. Very little, if any, direct sunlight hits the plant at any time of the day. Usually under an overhang or canopy of thick trees or vegetation with dense leaf coverage.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Degroot’s Spire’ is a dwarf, slow-growing, evergreen shrub with an upright, pyramidal habit which thrives in full sun ( 6 hours of direct sunlight); however it will tolerate partial shade (3-6 hours of morning or early afternoon sun). At maturity this type of cedar will grow to be about 12 feet tall, with a spread of 3 feet within 15-20 years.

Degroot’s cedars tolerate a wide range of fertile well-drained soils. During  hot and dry weather, like we had this past summer, periodic deep waterings are advisable, especially when shrubs are grown as foundation plants. Do not allow your newly planted cedar to dry out completely as it may drop foliage and become bare and unattractive.

Another cedar that will tolerate part shade isn Thuja occidentalis ‘Nigra’.

Hicks Yew (Taxus x media ‘Hicksii’) is a dense, multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with a narrowly upright and columnar growth habit. These plants will tolerate partial shade. They tend to grow very tall and rather columnar in shape which is good for hedging. They are good for most soil conditions. They do require a regular pruning to keep the shape.

We receive numerous inquiries regarding privacy screens. This link gives you a number of our archived posts. Evergreen Suitable for Hedging: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide lists numerous other options.

Privacy screen for swimming pool gives instructions on what plants to stay away from when planting near a pool and also lists some deciduous shrubs which are suitable for planting near a pool.

Lastly, you mention the option of deciduous tree hedging in which the lower branches are removed as the tree grows to create its canopy above the top of the fence. These hedges would typically need to be pruned to maintain their shape.  Here is another Toronto Master Gardeners post on the subject of “pleached” hedging, the art of “limbing up” hedging trees so that they seem to float above the ground, leaving space at ground level but providing privacy above. This is usually done on beech or hornbeam trees. Unfortunately, both these trees thrive in full sun so would not be suitable for your site.