Privacy and hedgerows are not top-of-mind until your neighbor dumps his leftover construction material for all to enjoy at the next backyard BBQ. My favorite is the super-sized motor home parked within feet of the property line that is now a chrome-covered albatross sitting between yards. We spend a lot of time outdoors in Arizona and a little privacy is essential.
An unfortunate mistake so many homeowners make is planting a hedge that becomes massive within several years, overgrowing its space and obscuring walkways and the front of your house. Screens taller than head-high can obliterate vistas and obscure sunsets. This article is dedicated to those plants that are easily maintained at head height with a little manicuring. Here is my list of the top seven local plants that make great scenes in local landscapes.
- Climbing Roses are a natural barrier for Prescott gardens. Not only are roses stunning the entire growing season, but in their thorny nature, they keep out the unwanted. Roses only need pruning in March, so they are far less work than other head-height shrubs. Also, check out the new Easy Elegance Shrub Series roses in a host of colors and fragrances. Now is a great time to plant a rose or any hedge.
- Gilted Edge Silverberry is a new hedge plant with a native twist that rivals manzanita and grows equally tall. Bright gold edges highlight every blue leaf for a stunning native hedge plant. Plant at four-foot intervals and you have a head high privacy screen so thick and bright no one would dare enter. Investment property owners use this plant because it classes up a property’s value, yet is hardy enough to keep up with a landscape’s deadliest tenant.
- Glossy Privet is a better choice with the same look. Growing to only head high, the broad green leaves form a thick hedge that ultimately reaches human height. The waxy leaves hold moisture within the plant’s structure, creating a low water, low maintenance hedge with fewer bug problems than its red-tipped counterpart.
- Golden Euonymous is the most popular of the hedge plants and as tough as they come. Bright gold foliage appears festive and fun for year-round class. An ideal hedge, it can be sheared or left to grow into a natural form dense enough to make an excellent visual and sound barrier. Look to the Silver King Euonymus for the same design element, only in a silver cream color that is equally striking. Feel free to mix and match the two for long hedgerows.
- Grape Holly is a natural alternative. Several varieties grow wild in the mountains of Arizona and snowball to six feet with minimal care. Once up to size, this hedge could be cut off from all care except very scarce water during the heat of summer. Fun gold flowers cover this plant in early spring, followed by a grape-like berry; the birds will love this hedge. The leaves resemble English holly, but are well adapted to our wind and bright sun. This plant makes an excellent fence along driveways, entrances and property lines.
- Mint Julep Juniper is another super hardy plant your grandfather used as a hedge, but with much better color. Of course, Northern Arizona is famous for our juniper forest, so a juniper hedge fits and is equally hardy. The signature seafoam green foliage proliferates to head high, needing little help and even less water. It forms a very thick hedge that requires infrequent trimming to keep it perfectly manicured.
- Victory Pyracanthia is another Victorian plant ideally suited to an eight-foot hedge row. White flowers in spring form orange berries the birds dearly love. Thick, glossy, green leaves are small, surprisingly hardy and the fastest growing of the tall hedge plants. This plant has all the seasons covered for a breathtaking landscape. Long thorns prevent a visitor’s escape through this hedge, and are equally good at keeping the unwanted out.
Spacing is critical for a fast filling hedge. Use the plant’s ultimate height as the spacing recommendations for a thick hedge. If the plant tag says that your plant will grow five to seven feet tall, use the smaller of the two numbers. Our arid Arizona climate seems to dwarf plants, or at least force them to grow on the small size of natural.
When the perfect hedge requires planting 15 perfectly spaced specimens that create your ideal garden abode, ask that they be planted for you. We have staff members who love planting and watching a new garden come alive and the beauty of a new hedgerow in a customer’s yard. A good gardener will know the soils, wind and environmental issues and how to compensate for a plant’s best performance. When planting yourself, ask for insider tips and the three things needed to have a new plant genuinely thrive in our mountain soils.
Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners screen prying eyes here at Watters Garden Center. QCBN
By Lisa Watters-Lain
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd. in Prescott, or contacted through her website at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.