Everyone wants to have privacy from street viewers and neighbors, and one way to achieve that is by making a natural fence. Basically, you can choose trees or hedges for your natural fence, depending on your needs and personal preferences.
Either way, you’ll get more than just privacy. You’ll get a sound barrier, wind and snow protector, and of course, a better look for your garden.
In our previous article we’ve discussed privacy trees, but today, we’re focusing on planting privacy hedges.
The Best Plants for Privacy Hedges
The best plants for privacy hedges depend on several factors:
1. The Appearance
The first thing to decide is whether you like deciduous or evergreen hedges. The first one will make a colorful natural fence, but it won’t be so effective at reducing sound and wind throughout the whole year.
On the other hand, an evergreen hedge will provide all the benefits from a natural fence all year round, but without the colorful appearance.
2. The Height
Some hedges grow higher than others, so if you want privacy from your second-floor neighbors, you should probably choose the taller ones.
For example, Nigra Arborvitae is a popular evergreen shrub hedge which can grow up to 30’, even though you can always trim it shorter.
Emerald Arborvitae is another example of a popular evergreen shrub hedge which can reach up to 15’.
When it comes to deciduous shrubs, North Privet and Rose of Sharon are excellent examples of fast-growing privacy hedges.
3. The Width
Now that you know the appearance and height of your natural privacy fence, it’s time to look for the width. This factor will depend on the available space you have in your garden.
So, if you don’t have a lot of space, you should choose narrow shrubs, and plant them in a single row.
But, if you have a big garden, you might consider planting them in double or triple rows.
What Plants Are Good for Narrow Privacy Hedges Screens?
Good examples of narrow evergreen shrubs are Korean Boxwood, which can reach up to 4′ – 6′ width, and Emerald Arborvitae which can grow up to 4’, but half the width in hedge. However, you can always trim them to fit smaller spaces.
North Privet, on the other hand, is an excellent choice if you like a narrow deciduous shrub hedge. It can reach up to 6’ in the wild, but in hedges, it can be easily trimmed to fit narrow spaces.
4. Rows and Spacing
The number of rows you’ll plant depends on the available space in your garden. The distance between the shrubs, on the other hand, depends on the variety you’ll choose, and on the distance you want them to be when mature.
So, it you choose mid-sized evergreen shrubs, plant them at 3-4 feet distance apart. But, if you go with narrow evergreen shrubs like Korean Boxwood or Emerald Arborvitae, make sure you leave 24inches distance between them.
The deciduous shrub North Pivet demands the same distance as the Korean Boxwood, whereas the Rose of Sharon 3-4 feet.
Note – Leave 12-24 inches from the plant’s center to avoid root crowding.
5. Map the Planting Area
Use wooden sticks to mark the area you want your privacy hedge to be, sticking them in the ground at each end and tying a string between them. In this way, you’ll ensure your natural fence is straight.
Then, put a sprinkler flag along the string. For instance, if you like your plants to be at 10 inches distance apart, put the sprinkler flags at 10, 20, 30 inches, and so on.
6. Plant the Shrubs
First, dig a trench that’s 2-3 times wider and 2 inches shallower than the largest root ball. Then, gently roll the shrub’s root ball into the trench, remove any burlap, and turn it on the side to face your garden.
Also, you can gently scrap across the root ball’s top, sides, and bottom to expose the small roots which absorb fertilizer and water. Do this using a cultivator. Follow the sprinkler flags to plant each shrub.
Mix excavated soil and compost in 2:1 ratio in a wheelbarrow, and backfill the trench up to grade. Then, make a soil dam around each plant a bit wider than the root ball’s diameter.
Then, water the plants, filling the dams twice after absorbing. From now on, water as the plants demand, or once a week.
7. Train the Shrubs as a Hedge
Usually, shrubs take one to two seasons after planting to act as a hedge. To train them to become a privacy hedge, trim sides and top a few times a year, making sure you cut half the length of new shoots.
Ideally, your hedge should have a wider base than the top to let sunlight reach the leaves in the lower parts.
Finally, let your shrubs grow naturally using proper pruning techniques, and you’ll have the privacy hedge you desire.