landscapes are at their thinnest this time of year.
Leaves are off the trees and shrubs, and you can see
through where you used to see green. This may raise the
desire to plant a clipped evergreen hedge or informal
screen along your boundary.
defines your property line in a friendly way. It also
adds a ribbon of green that looks good all year, but is
most noticeable and cheerful in winter.
plants for this project starts with an understanding of
their requirements for sun, shade or something in
between. Plus you must think about how short or tall,
how wide or narrow you wish the hedge or screen to grow.
a hedge is kept short and clipped on the sides and top
to give a rather stiff, vertical effect. The effect is
formal and looks good when done right. It is usually
kept short enough for a person to trim it, late each
winter, while standing on the ground.
often, a single kind of plant, such as Japanese holly,
English laurel or Japanese boxwood, is chosen. This may
be the best choice when space is limited and you want to
avoid any intrusion into sidewalks or driveways.
screen is a looser, more informal look, with shrubs
allowed to reach their normal mature height. It is a
bigger look, but one to work on over time and cherish.
The effect on the sides is soft, sometimes even
feathery. And this type of screen lends itself to a mix
of plants that can even include deciduous shrubs such as
forsythia, barberry, quince or hydrangea. While a long
stretch of deciduous shrubs may look boring in winter, a
mix of evergreen and deciduous looks fine, especially if
the evergreens present the background.
is where your particular taste for such things as color
(blue hydrangeas for summer or golden yellow kerria for
spring), late-winter flowers (witch hazel or wintersweet)
or fragrance (winter daphne) can be explored and then
enjoyed for years. People tend to plant clipped hedges
single file in rows of varying lengths. It must seem
like the natural thing to do, and it does create smooth
sides to the hedge.
an informal screen almost always looks better when
planted in a zigzag pattern with every other plant
slightly forward of its neighbor. This gives rhythm to
the look and allows for closer, easier spacing because
the plants have more breathing room (meaning room to
grow) on their sides. Since the intended effect is loose
and free, this looks better. It will also reduce the
chances that you will prune the plant and probably
reduce the amount of flowers.
can do this work on days when it is nice to be outdoors,
but try to get it done by mid-spring. This will allow
roots of the new plants to get growing, Careful
attention must be paid to watering in dry weather
through the summer the first year and probably the