Howling wind, intrusive neighbours or simply a desire for a bit more privacy are all good reasons to visit your local garden store to shop for shrubs that could work as screening. Evergreen shrubs offer a natural, attractive alternative to fences. There are a number of different choices, from 1- to 20-foot shrubs, from those that require pruning to those that are more natural and maintenance-free.
Boxwood is the quintessential hedge shrub, available in both shrub and tree varieties. Boxwood can be pruned to a 1-foot height for a decorative border within a garden or can be grown up to 20 feet high for a strong wind-shielding hedge. Boxwood does well in most garden zones except those with very hot summers.
Cypress is in fact a tree, but like boxwood, it is frequently pruned to hedge size. This is a fast growing plant with grey-green foliage sprays that can grow 3 or 4 feet in one season. Cypress normally grows in slim upright shapes, but can become thicker with regular pruning. Cypress can tolerate a wide variety of soils and climate.
Holly comes in a wide variety of species, with English holly as the most familiar. Varieties can range from foot-high dwarf varieties to 50-foot trees, but all varieties can be pruned to form screens and hedges. Holly prefers a rich, slightly acid soil and can tolerate both sun and shade. It needs plenty of water to do best. If you want the bright red berries we associate with holly, you will need to plant both a male and a female plant.
Jacobina needs partial shade and prefers rich, somewhat acid soils. This shrub has shiny, dark green leaves and dense clusters of flowers in a variety of colours. Jacobina does best with annual pruning to keep the shrub dense.
Pampas grass is described by Sunset Magazine as an "evergreen giant." Pampas grass is fast growing and easy to grow. Once established, Pampas may reach up to 8 feet.
Photinia comes in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. It needs sun and good soil to thrive and does best with regular pruning to eliminate long, bare stems, as plants can grow up to 20 feet high without pruning.
Viburnum can be either deciduous or evergreen. Be sure to check the specific variety on the label. Most viburnums have both leaves and fragrant white clustered flowers and brightly coloured fruits favoured by birds. Viburnum can tolerate both acid and alkaline soils, sun and shade, but it does like plenty of moisture.
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