Offshoots: The Blog

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Tree for Your Hedge


The phone rings.  I answer.  “Hi”, the customer says.  “What are the biggest trees you have?  You won’t believe what my neighbour did!”  I can’t begin to tell you how many of my phone conversations with customers have started with these words.  There are many reasons to plant a hedge:  to gain privacy from an unsavoury neighbour; to hide an unsightly view; to block traffic noise; to keep children and pets in; to keep trespassers and stray animals out; to create a backdrop for shrubs and perennials; to simply add some green to your yard.  And I’m sure there are many more.

So, how do you choose the right tree for your hedge?  Well there are several factors to consider before deciding on the right plant. 

#1: Sunlight

First you need to consider how much sunlight the location receives where the plants will be placed in the ground.  A plant that loves sun and is planted in a shady location will never grow as beautifully as it could, no matter what measures you take. Yews – including our Irish, Eddie, Hicks and Hill’s yews – are the exception here, growing well in either sun or shade.

Yews thrive in shade or sunlight, making them very versatile for any hedge location!

#2: Space

Next you need to consider how large you want your hedge to grow.  Planting a shrub that only grows 10 to 12 feet tall when you want a 30 ft. tall hedge won’t meet your needs.  And vice versa, if you only have room for a 3-4 ft. wide hedge and plant trees that want to grow 10-15 feet wide you are going to have a battle on your hands.

Degroot's Spire cedars grow nice and compact, requiring little pruning and withstand snowfall well.

#3: Maintenance Demands

This brings me to my next point:  how much time do you want to spend maintaining your hedge?  If you love the Leyland cypress tree because it stays a deep rich green colour throughout winter, but don’t have the space to let it grow naturally, ( it wants to grow 50 feet tall or more and 20 feet wide) you can prune it to stay much smaller, but that will require two to three trimmings a year.  Now, some people are OK with that, so then the Leyland cypress is an OK choice. For those looking for minimal maintenance, Degroot’s Spire cedars are a great choice.

With regular pruning, your Leyland cypress hedge can look like this.

#4: Balancing Priorities

Perhaps the most important reason in choosing a plant is that you want a hedge that will grow quickly, to give you the privacy you are looking for (say from that unpleasant neighbour!).  Sometimes you need to find a balance, though, between what you want and what is practical.  Typically the fastest growing trees are also the largest – take our Excelsa Western Red cedar, for example – and if you don’t have the space, then your hedge will require a lot of maintenance to keep it to size.  Sometimes, a compromise is in order. 

If you have the space, an Excelsa hedge will quickly give you the privacy you are looking for.

#5: Budget

 And last, but not least you need to consider your budget.  Many people want immediate privacy, an instant hedge, but that costs more.  With a bit of patience, you can purchase smaller trees at a more affordable price and still have the beautiful hedge you want.  It will just take a few more years. Our one gallon Emerald cedar trees are a popular and economical choice.

Emerald cedars in one gallon pots - your most economical choice.

Our website lists all the plants we grow and their features to help you determine which is the right tree for your hedge.  If you still have questions after perusing our site, then give us a call.  We will be happy to answer your questions.

Wishing you happy gardening in 2020 …. and great neighbours!

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