what to plant in front of a privet hedge

(Question)

Hello,
My neighbour has a privet hedge on the property line. On my side, my garden slopes up to the hedge. I have always had a rock garden there, but would now like to plant something that requires less maintenance {I’m 60 now and preparing for the future}. The problem I see is, how much space should I leave between the hedge and my new bushes to allow access to prune my side of the privet hedge? I would like to plant a grouping of Hollies or some other evergreen that would form a solid mass.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, many thanks

(Answer)

There are a couple of things to consider when choosing plants for your sloping garden. The privet hedge, as you know, will need pruning several times a year and you should allow 2-3 feet of space to stand beside the hedge with pruning tools. The other thing to consider is the height of the shrub that you choose for your garden bed. You don’t want to plant something that has a mature height that extends above where your neighbour’s hedge is so that you don’t block the light that it requires to grow and remain full. Hollies generally have a mature height of 3 or more feet so it would likely cause some problems with the privet hedge. If you are considering an evergreen shrub planting you should consider some dwarf, spreading types such as euonymus, creeping or spreading junipers (e.g. blue star, blue chip, bar harbor) or creeping or spreading spruces. You might consider a groundcover which would knit together to help eliminate weeds.  The Toronto Master Gardeners has a gardening guide with a number of broadleaf evergreen groundcovers that you might find useful.