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Design Ideas - mixed hedge

17 years ago

First off, I want to say i am much more comfortable planting perennials as I have some experience with it, and if they don't work out, the investment is modest.

I am re-doing the backyard which requires building "bones" and I am losing my nerve on how to do this. I have a focal point tree worked out and a broad concept, but the execution is worrying me.

The setting is like this - the very back of the yard is open (no fence) to a large native growth greenbelt that has very high limbed hemlock and an understory of salal, a few vine maples, sword ferns and other misc native woodland like plants. Formerly, the yard was just grass and 6' fence on each side to mark the boundary with the neighbor.

I want to plant beds along the fences to better integrate the yard with the greenbelt, to hide the privacy fence and in a few selected areas, to get a bit more height then the 6' privacy fence. (We are adding a hottub and lounging area so there are a couple of targeted spots where I need more height for privacy) My concept was to plant a mixed, informal hedge as background - primarily made up of evergreen broadleaf shrubs and small trees (might be deciduous too) with some evergreen conifers. The height range should be 6'+, but no monsters. The next layer (not a straight row, more informal placement) is primarily flowering shrubs such as hydrangeas, mock orange, spirea, hardy fuschias etc. Some spots are fuller sun then others, so the planting is largely determined by the infividual spot. The layer closest to the yard will be some lower growing perrennials.

So here is where I am losing my nerve - that is a lot of plants and I am struggling with visualizing a cohesive look while respecting that I have different light sun/shade conditions and different needs as far as plant height for privacy. I do NOT want a formal looking pyramadalis look - more like "gracilis" hinoki cypress as the primary conifer. I also don't want really wide plants (how wide do wax murtle get??). I also want a nice variety of plant and leaf textures, leaf color, bloom times etc. for the flowering shrubs and perrenials. I feel as if I can get the evergreen border right, the rest will fall in place. I am accustomed to planting groupings of the same plant, but I am not sure how to do that well in a mixed border like this. How do you create a "drift" of large plants - or do you even need to?

I am also wondering if using a couple of shrubs with dark (purple) leaf color will work as I also have some variegated plants in mind.

I have all of this drawn out, including creating a private sitting area etc and it looks beautiful in a 2 dimensional, black and white view - I am nervous about the final look once the colors and textures all come together.

On the edge against the greenbelt, I am going to put in a couple of nice small trees (maples, kousa etc) to provide foliage and bark interest and to contribute to the understory layer. I will also put in a few smaller shrubs and other plants to blend from the forest into the lawn - that part is coming together just fine since the greenbelt has already provided the basic structure and inspiration for that part of the planting.


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