“Love your neighbor, yet pull not down your hedge.”
-- English Proverb.
“Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an
-- Marlon Brando
Surrounded on three sides by neighbors, our backyard wouldn’t be
nearly as wonderful without the seclusion afforded by hedges and trees.
Catharine and I have increased our property’s privacy with hedges, while
still mindful of our neighbor’s view.
A hedge is a line of shrubs or trees used to define the limits of a
given area. Used in the garden, these plants may be employed as an
edging, background, windbreak, barrier or enclosure.
A clipped or informal hedge is used in the same manner as a masonry
wall or wooden fence and is generally less expensive. As an element in
landscape design, hedges serve as a protection and screen from peeping
eyes and provide a feeling of privacy. In baser terms, a hedge may be
used to blot out your neighbor’s ugly rooftop and trash-strewn backyard.
Well-sheared, perfect hedges can only be made from plants that will
tolerate regular clipping. Less formal hedges can be made of plants that
resent the constant clipping endured by privet and boxwood. I have found
that most shrubs, left to their own devices, will grow into some form of
Buxus microphylla japonica (Japanese Boxwood) is a popular hedging
plant in Laguna. The compact, bright green foliage is well suited to
trimming and will eventually grow to a height of four to six feet. It is
most commonly grown as a low to medium hedge and trimmed into myriad
forms of topiary.
A native of Arizona, Dodonaea viscosa “Purpurea” (Purple Hopseed Bush)
can be pruned as a hedge or left unpruned to become an informal screen.
It will tolerate ocean wind and poor soil, and it is quite drought
tolerant. Its rich bronze-green color makes a compact hedge of six to
eight feet or more.
The most commonly used hedge in Laguna is Ligustrum japonicum
“Texanum” (Japanese Privet). Easily grown in almost any soil, it will
attain a height of four to nine feet. The glossy green leaves are
attractive, while the showy flowers may attract too many bees for some
Murraya exotica (Orange Jessamine) makes a fine hedge in filtered
sunlight. Light green, glossy leaves form an upright and compact plant to
about six feet. The white flowers have a jasmine fragrance.
The versatile Podocarpus gracilior (Fern Pine) is useful as a big
shrub, street tree, espalier and hedge in sun or partial shade. It grows
easily in most gardens and can be grown from six to 20 feet high.
Oh, summer in Laguna ... perfect weather, no parking spaces and
fireworks at Main Beach. The backyard spa is fired up, and Catharine and
I are ready to soak away our day. Hedges really are an absolute
prerequisite for privacy.
See you next time.
* STEVE KAWARATANI is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery, 1540
S. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist Catharine
Cooper and has three cats. He can be reached at (949)497 2438 or by
e-mail at o7 firstname.lastname@example.org .