Thinking beyond borders

Wide variety of choices will have you over the hedge
By: Jane Rounsaville, special to Home & Garden
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Meticulously straight-edged, burly and defensive, or flaunting curvy sculpted contours, hedges are just like people — each has its own unique shape, personality and purpose. Hedges protect our privacy from curious neighbors, shelter us from the wind and curtail undesirable critters. They can be used to designate property lines, border separate gardening spaces within a yard or enclose a private corner. From the formal symmetry of English gardens to the most casual backyard brush, homeowners have the freedom to stretch beyond the borders of conventional gardening. “You can actually turn any shrub into a hedge,” said Earlene Eisley-Freeman of Eisley Nursery. “It is pretty easy to do.” But each has its strengths. “My favorite is boxleaf euonymus because it is low maintenance,” Eisley said. “You typically don’t have to trim it, you just let it go. It only gets about a couple feet high.” She also recommends photinia, privet and junipers. Use flowering plants like oleander, myrtle and rockrose for informal hedges, and mix flowers that bloom at different times. “Myrtle makes a good hedge, and then that gets little white flowers on it,” Eisley said. “It only gets maybe two to three feet tall.” Be careful not to plant too close together, and make sure the plant will fit within its space when it reaches full growth. A lot of homeowners do not realize that some shrubs eventually grow into full-size trees. “There are no bad plants,” said Robb Sloan, owner of R&S Outdoor Environments. “They are only incorrectly chosen plants for that particular site.” Planning can save a lot of disappointment and extra expense. “Pick the plant for the spot,” Sloan said. “If you only have to go 2 foot wide and you want something 6 foot tall, get Japonicus ‘Green Spire.’ If you like Italian cypresses, but you don’t want them to get 40 feet tall, there is a variety by Monrovia called Tiny Towers that is 6 foot tall.” Sloan also recommends evergreens such as Emerald Green Thuja and Cherry Laurel. “Almost everything grows as wide as it does tall unless you purposely search out something otherwise,” he said. “So photinia, if you want it 10 feet tall, it gets 10-feet wide. Xylosma — that is an awesome plant, very beautiful — takes the pruning like very few items will. Under its natural habitat, it will get 40 feet tall, maybe only about 30 feet tall, and just as wide.” Keep hedges trimmed, cleaned, watered, fed and fertilized on a regular basis. Eisley Nursery sells Formula 49, an organic-base fertilizer that can be used year-round. Deer-resistance is extremely important in the foothill ls. Eisley recommends deer repellents like Liquid Fence or Deer Scram. Blood meal, fish emulsion or fishmeal can also help. Above all, be imaginative, Sloan advised. “There are so many different things that are out there, for so many different uses,” he said. -------- Tips on choosing a hedge Choose hedges that are compatible with the architecture of your home Boxwoods last longer, and don’t require as much trimming. Fast-growing plants do not live as long as slow-growing Try to mix flowering plants with evergreens